‘People are waking up’ to the scourge of privatization in Ontario

Polling shows how unpopular and costly privatizing public services is, but Ontario government continues to push forward with privatization projects.

Toronto (18 Nov. 2016) — On November 14, Premier Kathleen Wynne and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were both in downtown Toronto. They were meeting behind closed doors with some of the richest people in the world, planning to privatize more of our public services.

OPSEU/NUPGE members head to Trudeau and Wynne's closed door meeting with elites

Members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) were there to raise the alarm, staging a highly visible and noisy pop-up public meeting across the street from the privatization conference where Wynne was speaking.

“These private, closed-door meetings are about setting an agenda for our province and our country, one that will make money for a few wealthy folks while leaving the rest of us behind,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President. “The good news is that people are starting to wake up to what’s going on, and starting to question why we’re handing over our public wealth to private corporations.”

New poll shows that majority of Ontarians oppose privatization of public services

During the public meeting, Thomas released fresh polling information that showed just how unpopular privatization has become. It found that

  • 3 in 4 Ontarians oppose the use of public-private partnerships (P3s) when they learn that Ontario has spent $8 billion too much on public infrastructure projects built with P3s;
  • 4 in 5 Ontarians believe that since interest rates are so low, the province should avoid P3 financing and simply borrow the money itself to build new hospitals, schools, and transit;
  • 3 in 4 Ontarians understand that P3s cost us more in the long run;
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Ontarians are worried that the public loses control over public services and assets when they’re privatized.

Supporters of public services paid a visit to privatization meeting to show their opposition

Representatives from a number of groups joined OPSEU/NUPGE members at the pop-up public meeting. They included Elizabeth Ha, a Hydro One Not For Sale campaign member, Chris Buckley, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour President, Gord Perks, Toronto City Councillor, Sean Smith of Unifor Local 2002, Jessica Bell, executive director at TTC Riders, and Alejandra Ruiz Vargas, the Acorn Toronto spokeswoman..

After the speeches, many attending decided to take their concerns directly to the privatization proponents meeting at the Sheraton.

Chanting “Ontario is not for sale," and "P3s don't work,” more than 100 people moved noisily into the hotel’s convention area just as the privatization conference delegates were breaking for lunch. The group demonstrated for more than 15 minutes before leaving peacefully.

Outside, Thomas reflected on the anger and frustration that privatization leaves people feeling.

“Down in the U.S., we just saw the electorate sending a strong, angry message to the political establishment,” Thomas said. “I travel all across Ontario and I see the same kind of anger and feelings of powerlessness here.

“We have to come together and channel that anger and hopelessness into something positive,” he said. “This We own it! campaign is one way of doing that. So keep the faith everybody and stay tuned: we’re just getting started!”


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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