"Our goal is to force politicians at all levels and all parties to come out against privatization." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President
Kingston (10 Feb. 2017) — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is calling on Kingston City Council to back away from plans to use a public-private partnership (P3) to finance its new "Third Crossing" bridge over the Cataraqui River.
Ontario has already suffered from too many P3s
"The evidence is clear: privatization costs more and delivers less," Thomas told a public meeting on privatization on February 6 at St. Lawrence College. "We've had to endure one privatization disaster after another in this province — the 407, the gas plants, hydro — and now here in Kingston, the Third Crossing."
"Privatization has already cost us billions upon billions of dollars. It's time to put an end to it," Thomas said.
Thomas encouraged the crowd of more than 100 to help stop the Third Crossing P3 by getting involved with We Own It, a grass-roots campaign against privatization that OPSEU/NUPGE is supporting. "Our goal is to force politicians at all levels and all parties to come out against privatization."
Support increasing on council to fight privatization
Thomas was joined on stage by a number of politicians, including two Kingston city councillors, Mary Rita Holland and Jeff McLaren.
Both councillors declared their personal opposition to privatization, and vowed to work to have city council take an official position against it, both in general and in terms of the Third Crossing.
"With the make-up of council right now, there's a real possibility that we'd be able to pass a motion opposing privatization," said Holland.
McLaren agreed, but noted that when the Third Crossing was first proposed, council at the time directed city staff to craft a funding proposal using the P3 privatization model.
"Council directed staff to look at the P3 model, but we have a real opportunity to change that," said McLaren. "There's a vacancy on council right now. If we can elect another progressive councillor, we'll have a majority on council and we'll be able to direct staff to abandon the P3 model."
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