“Our public air services are safe, efficient, and they deliver tremendous value. It’s simple – the public model works. It’s not clear what problem the government is trying to solve with its privatization push." — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (20 March 2018) — Almost a year ago, a confidential document leaked in the media confirmed that the Pallister government was looking at privatizing the province's air services branch, the agency responsible for maintaining and coordinating the public fleet of air ambulances and water bombers.
Essential services should not be profit opportunities for private sector
The government then issued an expression of interest to assess the willingness and ability of the private sector to provide these services.
On March 13, the government took their privatization effort to the next level by announcing a Request for Proposals to hire a consultant who will be responsible for assessing what benchmarks private companies will have to meet to provide these essential services.
“Our skilled members at Manitoba Government Air Services are dedicated to providing an essential, life-saving public service to Manitobans — getting critically ill patients to hospital and protecting communities from forest fires,” says Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). “These essential services should not be auctioned off as profit opportunities for private airline corporations.”
Currently, the province owns, maintains and operates a fleet of 22 aircraft throughout the province, which collectively provides air ambulance services, inter-hospital transportation, wildfire suppression, and transportation for government officials.
Northern and remote communities rely on public air services
Gawronsky notes that the services provided by the agency are vital to many Manitobans, particularly those in Northern and remote communities, and these communities deserve services based on the needs of Manitobans, not the bottom line of a private airline.
“Our public air services are safe, efficient, and they deliver tremendous value. It’s simple — the public model works. It’s not clear what problem the government is trying to solve with its privatization push," says Gawronsky.
Gawronsky reminded the government that Manitobans are overwhelmingly opposed to the privatization of Manitoba Government Air Services. Just last summer, a Probe Research poll found that 72 per cent of Manitobans oppose privatizing these essential public services.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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