Saturday, 16 June 2012

Ontario Budget Attempts to Privatize Public Transit and other Public Services

From TTC Riders site:

Just as we savour our victory in winning back four Light Rail Transit lines for Toronto, an even greater threat is presenting itself—two provincial government initiatives that may foster privatization of our public transit systems. They are:

1) Schedule 28 (The Government Services and Service Providers Act, 2012), which is a section of the provincial government’s Budget Bill 55 that goes for a final vote at the Legislature this Wednesday, June 20th.

There is still opportunity for an amendment to eliminate Schedule 28 this Monday, during the meeting of the Standing Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs. We can call or email an MPP today and Monday morning and ask them to oppose Schedule 28. Here is why:

Section 28 will give a new Cabinet Minister sweeping power to authorize contracting out or privatization of any and all Ontario Government Services, with no requirement for transparency or accountability—even if this contradicts the mandates and regulations of other ministries. These measures will also apply to local municipal services and agencies. Concerns are compounded by Ontario’s obligations under international agreements, such as GATS, CETA, and NAFTA, which may prohibit favouring local contractors over international bidders. In addition, once a service is contracted out, restoring public ownership may be prohibited. (Here is a legal opinion on the Provincial budget bill that expresses many of these same concerns.)


  • Call or email your MPP. Here is a link which will give you their name and contact information when you enter your postal code. 
  • Contact members of the Standing Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs and ask them to vote for an amendment to eliminate Schedule 28. Here is a list of the members of the Committee and the Committee Clerk's contact info:
    Chair                Bob Delaney                Liberal              Mississauga - Streetsville
    Vice Chair        Teresa Piruzza            Liberal               Windsor West
    Members         Victor Fedeli                 PC                    Nipissing
                            Cindy Forster               NDP                  Welland
                            Monte McNaughton     PC                    Lambton-Kent-Middlesex
                            Yasir Naqui                  Liberal              Ottawa Centre
                            Michael Prue              NDP                 Beaches – East York
                            Peter Shurmen             PC                   Thornhill
                            Soo Wong                   Liberal             Scarborough - Agincourt
    The Committee Clerk is Valerie Quioc Lim. She can be reached at
    416-325-7352 and can be sent messages for distribution to the Committee at her email: (I've bolded the Toronto MPPs.)

2) The Province and Metrolinx's handling of the four approved Light Rail projects opens the door to privatization of financing, project management, and potentially ownership and operation of these new transit lines. Privatized transit has been a disaster around the globe. We need to remind our MPPs of this to ensure we don't repeat the mistakes other cities have made privatizing their public transit systems. (Here is a short youtube video on the dangers of privatizing public transit created by the Public Transit Coalition in 2010.)

At it’s April 25th meeting, Metrolinx decided to take project management away from the TTC and implement work in the context of a public-private partnership with one large company. TTC staff voiced their concerns with this approach at their May 30th meeting, while the Commission quietly endorsed Metrolinx's approach.

In addition, here is what acclaimed author Taras Grescoe reports about Vancouver's Canada Line in Straphangers, his comprehensive new book about transit systems in 12 cities of the world:
  • The Canada Line to the [Vancouver] airport … was the first major piece of transit infrastructure in North America to be built with a public-private partnership, an initiative many commentators say was plagued by corner-cutting. Three stations had to be eliminated from the planned route, and the station platforms … were too short to allow future expansions. Thanks to cost overruns, the provincial government will be compensating the private company that operates the line with payments up to $21 million a year until 2025.
Finally, an opinion piece in the June 5th Toronto Star by TTCrider Joell Vanderwagon, titled, Premier should tame Metrolinx beast sets out the details and dangers of the situation.

There is still time to stop this takeover. Stay tuned for actions that can be taken to address our concerns with this approach to building the desparately needed LRT network.

For More and Better Public Transit,

Jamie Kirkpatrick, Public Transit Campaigner
Toronto Environmental Alliance

No comments: