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Election saskatchewan

2 011

Know the issues. Question the candidates.

Make your vote count.


We built a province based on respect for working people.

Protect

Make your vote count Public money siphoned off to fund private surgical clinics. Crown corporation assets sold off. Public service workers stripped of Charter rights to free collective bargaining. Deep cuts in the government workforce. More and more public service work contracted out to private, for-profit companies.

Front cover photos: Paul (top left), Emergency Medical Services, Keewatin Yatthe Health Region Jody (top right), Program Coordinator, John Howard Society Tracy (lower left), Licensing Clerk, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority 2 • Election 2011

The face of our province is changing. ­Saskatchewan’s tradition of strong public services, vibrant Crown corporations and the freedom to work together to improve the quality of life for ourselves and our families is in jeopardy.

Stand up for Saskatchewan The November 7 provincial election is our opportunity to stand up for the kind of Saskatchewan we want to live and work in. It is our chance to stop the dismantling of the good things that make our province unique. Saskatchewan people built a province based on the values of cooperation, support for one

another, and respect for working people. We have been leaders on the national scene. We have pioneered new ways of working together and building strong families and communities.

We shape our future As union members and Saskatchewan citizens, we have a democratic duty to be involved in the decisions that will shape our future. This election publication outlines issues we are confronting as SGEU members. It offers specific examples and evidence. It suggests ques­tions to ask candidates and political parties when they come to ask for your support.

Know the issues Engage in the political process. Talk to friends and co-workers. Attend an all-candidates’ meeting. Join other union members and progressive people across the province to protect public services and the Saskatchewan way of life. Make your vote count.


The cuts will hurt those who need help

public services

the most.

Jobs and services at risk The vital services Saskatchewan families and communities count on are at risk as the Sask Party government quietly downsizes the public workforce through widespread job cuts. Fifteen per cent of the government workforce will be eliminated by 2014, according to the target set by the government in its 2010-11 budget.

A growing province needs strong public services Cutting public services in the midst of an economic boom that is bringing more and more people to our province just doesn’t make sense. It is a strategy that could only be justified by a government determined to attack public services — and public service workers — even as the need for services grows. Virtually every ministry has eliminated a substantial number of jobs in the past two years. Some examples include: 162 jobs from Highways, 50 from Health, 47 from Environment, 54 from Government Services,

38 from Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport, and 29 from the Information Technology Office.

An excuse to contract out Eliminating jobs goes hand-in-hand with privatization. It gives government an excuse to hire private, for-profit companies to try to fill in the gaps in service. The net result is the loss of good, unionized jobs for families across the province, an uneven patchwork of services, and higher costs to the public. With fewer social workers, highways workers, parks staff, laboratory technologists, occupa­ tional health and safety workers — we will lose many of the good things Saskatchewan people have built and supported over the years.

Ask your candidate Will you stop the job cuts in government ministries and agencies, and re-build our public services for the benefit of all citizens?

Election 2011 • 3


Privatization

… by stealth

Stop the quiet sell-off of our public services The quiet sell-off of our public services is underway. The Sask Party government is gradually handing more and more of our province’s public assets, programs and services over to private companies. The privatization by stealth agenda puts SGEU members’ jobs at risk and threatens the future well-being of Saskatchewan families and communities. If our public infrastructure is dismantled through sell-offs and contracting out, we may never get our valued programs and services back.

Part of our common wealth Public services — from education and health care to corrections and services for injured workers — are part of our common wealth. When those services are privatized — transferred to profit-seeking groups — we lose accountability and control. We also end up paying more, either because we have to pay more in fees for privately-offered services or to cover the added costs of a business’s profit margin. It is crucial that we put privatization on the public agenda — in the upcoming election and in the years ahead. Saskatchewan people need to know the decisions that are being made today, and the consequences of those decisions. And, they need to have a say in whether our current public infrastructure is dismantled and turned over to profit-motivated groups. SGEU members need specific information about privatization. In some cases contracting out and transferring services to private companies is already happening. In other instances we are raising the issue to help prevent privatization in the future.

4 • Election 2011


Ask your candidate Do you support either partial or full privatization of any public services? If so, which services, programs or assets do you think should be privatized? Why? If you are not in favour of privatization, what steps will you take to ensure that turning services over to private companies stops? Will you state publicly that you oppose privatization? Can you explain how the privatization of public services will save money? Do you have any evidence to support this? Do you think private companies can provide services for less money and earn a profit at the same time? Are you concerned that private, out-of province, even out-of-country, businesses will take profits out of Saskatchewan? Would it concern you if these companies brought in outside workers, taking jobs from Saskatchewan people? Once services are privatized, do you think government could be forced to pay higher and higher costs as contracts come up for renewal? How can government be accountable to the people who elected it if it does not assume the responsibility of administering, regulating and overseeing its public services? Do you think that quality of service could suffer if private companies pay lower wages, and are therefore less able to hire educated, experienced, qualified staff?

These questions will help you challenge candidates to talk about specific implications of privatizing public services.

Make privatization an issue. Election 2011 • 5


Health Care

Support a

Privatizing

Safeguarding and expanding our

health care

public health care system should be one

means: higher costs; less money for public health services; and, fewer health professionals in the public system.

6 • Election 2011

of our province’s top priorities. Yet government is eroding that system by undervaluing health care workers and opening the door to privatization.


strong, public system Public money siphoned off to private clinics Surgeries that should be provided within the public health care system are now being performed in private, for-profit clinics. Omni Surgery Centre in Regina and Surgicentre in Saskatoon have been receiving public money to perform day surgeries on a for-profit basis. In June, 2011, the contract for providing private surgeries in Regina and Saskatoon was handed to a Calgary-based company, Surgical Centres Inc. (SCI), which runs private clinics in Alberta and B.C. The government is re-directing funds that should be used to build capacity in our province’s hospitals to profit-driven centres, owned by a handful of private investors. And now those private investors are large, out-of-province corporations. At the same time, government has put a hold on funding for capital investment in a new public outpatient surgical care centre in Regina.

Private clinics cost more When our tax dollars are used to pay for medical procedures in private clinics, we are picking up the additional costs of running a parallel, private system. We are paying for privately-owned

Sajjad, Registered Nurse Alan Blair Cancer Clinic

Ask your candidate Will you take steps to stop any further privatization of our health care system, and prevent the contracting out of support services?

facilities, equipment, supplies, and, of course, a profit for investors. Without a significant profit margin, private investors would not be interested in operating these clinics.

Alberta: Private clinics not reliable The Alberta experience with private surgeries shows that we cannot rely on for-profit clinics, according to University of Toronto health policy analyst Dr. Michael Rachlis. The Calgary-based private, for-profit Health Resource Centre had to be bailed out by the public Alberta Health Service (AHS) to the tune of $2 million in May 2010. A few months later, the AHS took legal action to get out of its contract with the forprofit facility and is now planning to handle its surgeries through an expansion within the public Foothills Hospital.1 The Manitoba experience also shows that the public system provides better cost efficiencies. Waiting lists were shortened and the costs of some surgical procedures were reduced after the Manitoba government bought the private

continued on page 8 Election 2011 • 7


Private clinics receive public funds to perform procedures that should be handled in the public system.

Health Care: Support a strong, public system continued Health region ordered to stop privatization The government’s privatization agenda has been derailed in one health region because of a union challenge. In a landmark ruling, arbitrator Dan Ish held that since the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region could not show that it was more efficient to privatize surgeries, it should stop paying for procedures in private clinics by 2013. The decision stemmed from an arbitration hearing between the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) and the health region. CUPE contract language prevents the employer from contracting out public work unless it can be demonstrated that doing so will be more cost effective. In his decision, Ish confirms what health policy analysts and researchers have concluded in recent years. It is most costeffective for governments to build upon the strengths of the public health system, rather than pay private companies to perform surgeries.

Pan Am Clinic in 2000. Cataract surgery cost $1,000 when done by the private clinic, but only $700 after the for-profit centre was absorbed into the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.2

Staff shortages worsen There is a province-wide shortage of health professionals. Spreading our limited human resources across two systems — public and private — does not solve the problem. In fact, it will make the staff shortages in the public health system worse. We need to maximize staff recruitment and retention in our public hospitals and health care facilities.

Health service providers at risk It is not only medical services that are possible targets for privatization. Also at risk are a wide range of health support services, including dietary, environmental services, maintenance, laundry, security, clerical, lab and other technical and administrative services. Experience in other provinces, such as B.C., shows that privatization leads to wage cuts, understaffing, loss of benefits and reduced

8 • Election 2011


Health care workers are the backbone of our health care system.

training. These negative working conditions lead to high staff turnover, increased absences due to injuries and illnesses — and ultimately, lower quality services for patients. In Saskatchewan, private, for-profit services are gradually making in-roads into many aspects of our health system. Some health regions now serve patients prepackaged, frozen food provided by private companies, instead of healthy meals freshly prepared on-site by local workers.

Strengthen the public system Health providers are the backbone of our health care system. But heavy workloads, stressful work environments and inequitable wages and benefits are making it difficult to hire and retain skilled, experienced workers. Staff shortages lead to heavier workloads, which too often result in workplace injuries. Health care employees have a workplace injury rate three times higher than any other occupation in the province. In the first six months of 2011, there were 2,433 injuries

reported by health staff to the Workers Compen­sation Board. The next highest number of injuries was reported by workers in Commercial, Industrial Construction with 772 claims.3 Difficult, often unmanageable, working conditions force many health providers to find employment in other fields. 1 “Public-sector investment trumps private-clinics: U of T analyst”, Regina Leader Post, Sept.15, 2010. 2 Ibid. 3 Claims registered in 2011 by claim code, Table 3. www.wcbsask.com.

Ask your candidate Will you help address the understaffing and workload problems facing health providers by: • Ensuring that health regions receive adequate funds to hire sufficient numbers of qualified health providers? • Ensuring that health providers receive fair and equitable wages and benefits in the years ahead? Election 2011 • 9


Public skills training is quality skills training. Our young people deserve the best.

Post-secondary

Public skills training eroded We need a strong public post-secondary education system to help train our young people to take on skilled jobs in our rapidly growing labour market. Yet government is not doing enough to expand our capacity to train students. continued on page 12 10 • Election 2011


Education Privatization plan blocked A recent attempt to privatize a public regional college in Saskatch­ewan is a clear example of how handing public services over to private interests can have disastrous consequences. • A proposed merger between the public Carlton Trail Regional College and the private St. Peter’s College, was finally shut down after an independent review raised concerns about financial misconduct involving taxpayers’ money. The public release of the report led to the termination of the private college’s CEO. • The review of the proposed merger between the two Humbolt-area colleges, by consulting group Meyers Norris Penny, pointed out the merger would effectively transfer public assets and public funds to a private institute, where there would be virtually no accountability to government. According to the report, those pushing for a merger proposed that the transfer occur for a nominal cost, such as a symbolic $1.00 fee.1

• The publicly-run Carlton Trail Regional College is, according to Meyers Norris Penny, “financially stable, producing modest surpluses from year-to-year in an effort to manage fluctuations in programming levels.” 2 In contrast, the report noted concerns about the financial position of St. Peter’s College and pointed to numerous infractions, such as inappropriate use of restricted funds, and failure to comply with Canada Revenue Agency rules. • The former CEO, Glen Kobussen, was reimbursed by the St. Peter’s College board for buying a $1,000 membership in the Saskatchewan Party Enterprise Club, and had a $62,700 vehicle purchased for him by the college, even though the institution was not on a solid financial footing.3

When education is privatized, we lose accountability and control.

The bottom-line: When public services — like post-secondary education — are turned over to private interests, we lose accountability and control. Election 2011 • 11


Post-secondary Education It is growing increasingly difficult to hire and retain instructors and professional staff because wages and benefits for SIAST and regional college staff are no longer competitive. SIAST has stopped delivering some key training courses, which are now being offered by private companies. These include first aid and safety training, truck driver training, and heavy equipment operator instruction. The number of private vocational schools in the province has increased from 38 in 1994 to 50 in 2011.4 But turning post-secondary skills training over to private companies isn’t the answer.

Students pay the price • In 2009/10, three private vocational schools run by the Academy of Learning in Regina, Swift Current and Estevan were shut down because they failed to meet provincial standards. Students faced the possibility that they would lose their tuition, as well as the time they had spent in the program.

Private schools cost students more Tuition Levels Institution SIAST – Two-year Diploma Program Private Vocational Schools* University – Undergraduate

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

2009-10

2010-11

$2,910

$3,026

$3,147

$3,336

$3,540

$6,242

$7,075

$6,687

$7,439

Unavailable

$5,015

$5,015

$5,015

$5,173

$5,431

*There are two categories of registered Private Vocational Schools. A Category I school delivers vocational training to fee-paying students. A Category II school delivers vocational training that is contracted for by a sponsor and not by the students enrolled in the school. This reflects only those Category 1 schools where students pay their own fees.

12 • Election 2011


continued

Ask your candidate

• Students pay more for private postsecondary skills training on average. Tuition fees for a SIAST student in 2009-10 were $3,336. University students paid $5,173. Meanwhile, tuition fees at private vocational schools were $7,439.5

Will you oppose further privatization of post-secondary skills training in Saskatchewan? Will you work to ensure that wage and benefit levels for post-secondary educators and professional staff are adequate and competitive?

Quality doesn’t make the grade

Will you take action to ensure that SIAST and regional colleges receive adequate funding to enhance and expand public post-secondary skills training?

The quality of education in private career colleges just doesn’t make the grade, according to a Globe and Mail investigation. “High tuition fees and an inability to secure well-paying jobs after graduation — combined with what some former students and teachers identify as lax teaching and entrance standards — resulted in 40 per cent of career-college students missing loan payments between 2006 and 2008, compared with 20 per cent of students at public colleges and universities. Average tuition at a career college is $14,000, a recent study found.” — Globe and Mail, May 3, 2010.

Meyers Norris Penny Summary Report of the Proposed Merger between CRTC and SPC, February 15, 2011, p. 12. 2 Ibid. p. 13. 3 Meyers Norris Penny Report on the Allegations Related to the Proposed Merger between Carlton Trail Regional College and St. Peter’s College, June 23, 2011, p. 22. 4 Saskatchewan Education, Training and Employment Annual Report, 1994-95, p. 31. SaskNetWorks. http://www.sasknetwork.gov.sk.ca/html/Learners/ educationtraining/postinstitutions.htm 5 Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Annual Report, 2010-11, p. 16. 1

Our postsecondary educators and professional staff are qualified, experienced professionals.

Election 2011 • 13


Social services workers need more resources to work with at-risk clients to help prevent problems.

Social

Keeping vulnerable children Children’s safety should be a top priority for any government. And when a province is experiencing unprecedented economic prosperity, there’s no excuse for leaving at-risk children and families behind. So why do we continue to have a child welfare crisis in Saskatchewan?

14 • Election 2011


Cutting prevention programs has

Services

intensified the crisis.

and families safe Staff cuts in face of growing need There has been a dramatic increase in the number of children coming into the care of the Ministry, as well as in the seriousness of the problems they face, but no corresponding increase in staff and resources.

Without more staff and resources, vulnerable children will not get the care and attention they deserve.

Prevention programs cut The elimination of a range of prevention programs has intensified the crisis.

At the same time, jobs are being lost as a result of the provincial government’s plan to cut the public service by 15 per cent. In the last two provincial budgets, 74.7 positions have been eliminated from the Ministry of Social Services.

In recent years the Ministry has done away with the Family Builders, Family Preservation, and Family Reunification programs. These services allowed staff to work intensively with families to help prevent the kind of crises that result in the removal of children from the home.

Foster care crisis

Cut – Saskatoon Family Support Centre – offered a range of formal and informal family support programs, such as parent education, children’s services, nutrition programs, and group parenting sessions.

There just aren’t enough foster homes, so social workers struggle to find a safe place for children in crisis. Sometimes they have to drive kids to homes two or three hours away – taking up a huge portion of an average work day — and making it virtually impossible to keep up regular visits.

continued on page 16

Election 2011 • 15


Social Services continued Cut – Teen and Young Parent Program – provided advocacy, counseling, crisis intervention and adoption options counseling as well as a variety of other supports to help prevent crisis in families. Cut – Domestic Abuse Outreach Program – helped women and children in crisis. Over the years, it offered a unique range of services, from frontline advocacy to counseling and peer support. Cut – Sexual Abuse Treatment Centre – Regina-based program that offered counseling, assessments, group work, and services for children. Government cut its own prevention programs with the goal of outsourcing that support work to community agencies. But, for the most part, community resources have not been able to fill the gap. The result is that children and families are put at risk.

Stop taking the social work out of social services.

Ask your candidate Will you commit to increasing staff and resources so that Ministry of Social Services workers can keep Saskatchewan’s vulnerable children and families safe? Will you ensure that social services continue to be human services by stopping the piecemeal contracting out of parts of a social worker’s job?

Irene, Youth Facility Worker, Dales House 16 • Election 2011

Income Assistance services contracted out Social services are human services. But increasingly, income assistance staff are being forced to contract out social work services to miscellaneous groups. That means workers can’t build meaningful relationships with clients, or monitor their progress. For example, intake assessments for people with disabilities are being contracted out to a third party group. Ministry of Social Services staff are educated, experienced and qualified professionals. Making it more difficult for them to work faceto-face with clients undermines their ability to make a difference in someone’s life. We need to stop taking the social work out of social services, and start supporting the workers who are trained and committed to helping vulnerable people.


A new seasonal campground is leasing sites for $30,000 for a ten-year term.

Provincial Parks Our parks deserve public stewardship Provincial parks are part of our natural heritage. They require careful stewardship, and should be affordable for all. But government is putting parts of our parks up for sale.Twenty-three cabins in Greenwater Lake Provincial Park were sold to a Reginabased property management company.

Campsites for sale or rent Private companies are moving into development of seasonal campsites in some of our provincial parks. In Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, a new, private seasonal campground is leasing sites for $30,000 for a ten-year term.

Ask your candidate Will you stop the quiet privatization of our provincial parks? Are you committed to ensuring that public parks workers continue to maintain and develop the parks in our constituency? Will you ensure that public parks employees work a full season, and be given additional weeks of employment if there is work to be done?

Services like cutting firewood, maintaining hiking trails and cleaning visitors’ centres were once provided by parks staff. Now public parks employees are working shorter terms each season and many of those services are being turned over to private contractors. Camping fees have been hiked making visiting our parks less affordable for average families.

Election 2011 • 17


There’s no financial accountability when public services are handed

Highways

to private companies.

If we go down the road of highway privatization, we could end up jeopardizing the safety of the travelling public and paying more to private for-profit companies. Ask your candidate Will you commit to keeping highways work within the public service? Since the mid-1990s, approximately 30 highways headquarters have been shut down in areas across the province. Will you commit to keeping the headquarters in our constituency open? Are you committed to keeping the current highways workforce in place, and increasing the number of employees as workload grows? 18 • Election 2011

Work that has for years been performed by Ministry of Highways staff is increasingly being handed over to private contractors — from equipment repair and road maintenance to engineering services.

Public safety at risk If government hands highway work to private, for-profit contractors, the safety of the travelling public may be put at risk. That’s a reasonable conclusion based on the experience in British Columbia, where highway maintenance has been privatized.

Unsafe vehicles and equipment A freedom of information request by a Kamloops journalist revealed that many of the vehicles and equipment that private contractors had on the road presented a danger to the public.1 Some of the private equipment had faulty brakes, tires ready to blow out, and unsafe loads, which put families at risk on the province’s highways. A total of 427 safety


Public safety should be our primary concern.

Warning – privatization ahead violations were recorded by inspectors between 2007 and 2008. Many of the safety infractions were so serious that the trucks and trailers were immediately ordered off the road.

Communities raise concerns Local governments in B.C. have formally expressed their concerns about road safety following privatization, and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities passed a resolution calling on the government to more closely audit road and bridge maintenance.2

No public oversight At present, private companies in B.C., whose overriding concern is their bottom line, are self-governing and self-regulating. This lack of public oversight can have disastrous results for families and communities.

The high cost of contracting out A study of B.C. highways found that mainte­ nance costs increased by $19 million every year following privatization.3

Ontario’s Provincial Auditor reported that road maintenance costs rose by $2 million per year after privatization.4 In Alberta, researchers have been unable to assess the real cost implications of privatization because contracts with private companies are not available to the public.5 Financial accountability is clearly a casualty when public services are handed over to private companies.

Job losses Privatization means job losses for public service workers. In B.C., the number of highways workers dropped from 2,600 to 1,580 since privatization.6 Let’s keep highways where they belong — in public hands. British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) www.bcgeu.ca/component/10 2 Ibid. 3 Prescott, Lisa. “Un-accountable: The Case of Highway Maintenance Privatization in Alberta”, Parkland Institute, 2003. p. 14. 4 Ibid. p. 14. 5 Ibid. p. 4. 6 BCGEU’s Mike Nuyens, quoted in “Union worried about road crews,” Regina Leader Post, October 29, 2010. 1

Election 2011 • 19


Community Se Wage equity – time to

Now is the time to redress a long standing injustice.

Community services workers have been rallying for fair wages for years.

20 • Election 2011

Care workers paid poverty level wages Community service workers care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society: children in crisis, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, women fleeing violent relationships, new immigrants and Aboriginal youth. But though the work they do is vital to the well-being of our families and communities, these workers have been, and continue to be, undervalued and underpaid.

The campaign continues SGEU, along with sister unions CUPE and SEIU, has been actively working for fair wages and benefits for community workers for decades. Under increasing pressure from unions to recognize the value of community-based workers, governments have started to gradually increase wages for some employees in this sector. However, even those who have received wage increases in recent years are still more likely to earn less and have fewer benefits than people who do comparable work within government.


rvice Workers make it happen! Many CBO workers — especially those who work in group homes and care for people with physical and intellectual disabilities — are still paid poverty-level wages.

Time to act Government needs to take action to ensure fair wages, adequate benefits and decent working conditions for community-based workers. Our province’s economy is robust and government has the resources to commit to fair wages and benefits. Now is the time to redress a longstanding injustice.

It’s just wrong A community-based worker employed at HELP Homes, a group home for people with intellectual and physical disabilities, earns just $12.94 an hour, while a group home operator earns $11.44 an hour. At Regina’s Victoria Homes, a group home operator-care worker makes $10.62 an hour. In contrast, staff at Moose Jaw’s Valley View Centre, a governmentrun facility for people with disabilities, are more appropriately compensated for the valuable work they do. They earn substantially more for doing essentially the same work as community-based group home staff. A group activity aide at Valley View earns $21.59 an hour. That’s a wage gap of more than $8 an hour! The chronic undervaluing of community services is not just apparent in the low wages paid to staff. Many community services buildings are crumbling, endangering employees and clients. It’s time to respect the people who live and work in these homes and offices. It’s time to fund building maintenance and ensure a safe environment for all. It’s time to stop exploiting workers who care for people in a community-based setting.

Ask your candidate Will you take immediate steps to raise wages and improve benefit levels for all community-based workers, particularly those in the lowest paid sectors? Will you commit to a multi-year funding plan that would see community-based workers’ wages rise to a level comparable to employees who work directly for government? Election 2011 • 21


Private companies can only make money from prisons by filling cells: security and accountability take second place. – NUPGE

Corre

Keep communities safe, More than 150 private prisons have sprung up in the U.S. in recent decades, and some Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia, have considered turning correctional and young offender services over to profit-seeking companies.

22 • Election 2011


Government has a duty to ensure public safety.

ctions

keep corrections public A losing record A public outcry stopped the Alberta government’s plan to open the door to for-profit prisons. In Ontario, an ill-fated experiment with a private super-jail run by a Utah-based corporation was shut down in 2007 and turned over to the province. The concerns with the private prison ranged from poor security to higher reoffending rates among inmates.1

is made by cutting costs, and that can result in further overcrowding and higher staff-toinmate ratios. Lower wages and benefits will lead to a less educated, experienced and qualified workforce.

At left: Sean, Corrections Worker Regina Provincial Correctional Centre Above: Sanjay, Corrections Worker, Community Training Residence

Uphold professional standards Correctional and young offender facilities must be operated by professional, well-trained public service employees to ensure the highest standards of care, custody and rehabilitation.

Losing control under privatization Government has a duty to ensure public safety and accountability. When correctional facilities are owned and operated by a third party, the government relinquishes its ability to set policies, oversee program delivery and monitor outcomes. When correctional services are run on a for-profit basis, the quality of programs and services suffers. That spells trouble for communities, workers and offenders. Profit

Ask your candidate Are you committed to keeping correctional and young offender facilities in public hands?

1 Nossal, Kim Richard and Phillip J. Wood. “The Raggedness of Prison Privatization”, Queen’s University, June 2004. Roslin, Alex. Straight.com. Vancouver’s Online Source, November 22, 2007.

Election 2011 • 23


The need to make a profit may pressure businesses into selling to underage youth.

Liquor Sales

Our publicly-run liquor stores help keep our families and communities safe. Ask your candidate Will you put Saskatchewan families and communities first, and stop the further privatization of liquor sales in Saskatchewan?

24 • Election 2011

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) is committed to selling alcohol in a socially-responsible manner. Public liquor store workers check IDs of anyone who looks 25 years or younger. Moving towards private liquor sales means less control over the sale of alcohol and the potential for greater social harm.

The door to privatization opened The government has licensed private wine stores in Regina and Saskatoon, opening the door to further privatization of liquor sales in our province.

Keeping our kids safe Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada is dedicated to reducing alcoholrelated harm. It has concluded that private liquor retailers are more likely than public liquor store workers to sell alcohol to those who should not have it.


Keep it in public hands “A young clerk working in a convenience store is much more vulnerable to pressure to sell alcohol to an underage peer than a trained and experienced employee of a government liquor store. “Similarly, a young clerk in a corner store is less likely to refuse service to a belligerent, intoxicated customer who demands that the clerk sell him alcohol.”1 According to MADD — Small businesses have “a strong financial incentive not to refuse sales.” It’s harder on a small business — that needs to make a profit to survive — to turn away a customer. It is much easier for a large, public institution to bear the financial burden of not selling liquor to someone who should not have it. 2

Keeping our public services strong

Shawna, Assistant Manager, SLGA

Revenue generated by public liquor sales goes back to government to help fund valuable services like schools, hospitals and roads. Last year, liquor sales contributed $215 million to the public purse.4 Saskatchewan people will lose this revenue if liquor sales are privatized.

1 Provincial Liquor Boards: Meeting the best interests of Canadians, MADD Canada Policy Paper 2009, p. 7. 2 Ibid. p. 7. 3 Liquor Stores and Crime. Calgary Police Service, 2003. 4 Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Annual Report 2010-11, p. 50.

A Calgary Police Service report stated that the need to make a profit may pressure private store owners into selling to underage youth.3

Election 2011 • 25


Information

Protect our privacy — Information today is digital, highly mobile, and much easier to access. This means that governments need to be extra cautious about safeguarding your personal information.

A Saskatchewan citizen’s private information stored in the U.S. would be subject to the U.S.A. Patriot Act.

26 • Election 2011


Technology

stop IT privatization Despite the risks, the Saskatchewan government is rapidly privatizing information technology (IT) services. More than 60 per cent of IT work has already been contracted out to at least 70 different private, for-profit companies.1

Our privacy rights at risk The provincial government is the steward of much of our personal data. It has a responsibility to ensure that the details of our lives are not out there for the world to see.

Who is safeguarding my information? We risk losing control of our personal information when our data is turned over to private interests. There is less transparency and accountability when a private corporation is in charge. Private contractors are not automatically subject to the same privacy and freedom of information laws as governments.

Out of our hands — in another country When our personal data is housed in another country, it is subject to the laws of that nation. For example, a Saskatchewan citizen’s private information stored in the U.S. would be subject to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which gives American law enforcement officials sweeping powers to override traditional privacy rights as part of its anti-terrorism strategy.

It costs more Government typically pays business substantially more to do the same work that has traditionally been done in-house by government workers. This is because: • contract employees are often paid more than government workers; and • businesses need to charge more for their services in order to make a profit.

Losing skilled workers When we hand over IT work to private companies, we lose hundreds of highly-skilled employees with the institutional knowledge and capability to manage our information technology systems. Once those jobs are gone and the expertise is lost, it will be nearly impossible to re-build a reliable public information management system. It’s in our best interests as a province to keep IT capacity within our own government. We don’t want to see our personal information, our money, or the technological expertise leave the province.

Government of Saskatchewan news release, February 17, 2010.; ITO Forward Looking Plans, Enterprise Saskatchewan Procurement Conference, April 14, 2011. 1

Ask your candidate Will you commit to strengthening our internal IT capacity, and stopping the privatization and contracting out of IT services?

Election 2011 • 27


Let’s build on our successes, not weaken or sell off assets we all own.

Tanya, Case Manager, Workers’ Compensation Board

Crown Cor Stop the quiet sell-off

Crown corporations provide quality services to Saskatchewan people. They help us meet many of our basic needs, while keeping costs affordable. And, profits go back to the people of Saskatchewan.

Ask your candidate Will you stop the quiet sell-off of our province’s Crown corporations?

We all know that our big Crowns, like SaskTel, SaskPower and SGI, are essential to the well-being of our province. However, many smaller Crown corporations also provide vital services to our families and communities. From housing authorities, to agencies like Workers Compensation and Information Services Corporation (ISC), our Crowns strengthen our local economy and offer quality services. While Saskatchewan people value our Crowns, the Wall government has a privatization agenda designed to quietly erode the strength and profitability of our public corporations.

28 • Election 2011


Send a message to the government: we value

porations

our Crowns.

Dismantling the Crowns: Sold off or contracted out since 2008 Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN) – Our public broadcaster, key to the local television and film industry, was sold to Ontario’s Bluepoint Investments at a fire sale price of $350,000 for broadcast assets and film and video properties. Privatizing power – A 20-year deal with private Ontario-based Northlands Power will privatize ten per cent of our province’s power generation. Northlands is slated to have a new power plant up and running near North Battleford by 2013. Saskatoon Square – SaskTel sold its 70 per cent share of downtown property, where it occupied 20 per cent of the premises. SaskTel became a tenant in the building. Other assets sold – Heritage Gas, Navigata, DirectWest Canada, Hospitality Network, AgDealer Services Contracted out: • SaskTel operator services contracted out to a direct competitor (Telus) • SaskTel Max installation service contracted out to direct competitor (Jump.ca) • SaskTel satellite high speed internet service contracted out to private companies • More than 20 per cent of SaskPower rural offices closed to walk-in customers • SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SaskTel line locates contracted out

Crown corporations provide Saskatchewan people with quality, innovative services at fair prices. They also provide jobs for local people and investment in local communities.

Source: Save Our Saskatchewan Crowns Election 2011 • 29


We cannot allow this government to undercut working families.

Essential

A fair bargaining process – One of the first acts of the newly-elected Sask Party government was to strip working families of their right to bargain fair wages and working conditions. The Public Service Essential Services Act — an unprecedented attack on the rights of working people in Saskatchewan — was introduced just six weeks after Brad Wall’s government took power.

Ask your candidate Will you restore balance and fairness to the collective bargaining process and repeal The Public Service Essential Services Act?

30 • Election 2011

Undermining unions’ bargaining power The essential services law effectively deprives public service union members of their right to strike to improve wages and benefits. It gives the government the ability to designate vast numbers of workers as essential, which means that those union members cannot take part in job action. This undermines the union’s ability to conduct an effective strike. Without the ability to go on strike, unions lose their leverage at the bargaining table.

Eroding workplace gains With its draconian essential services law, the Wall government has granted itself the power to control the bargaining process. This gives it the ability to erode the economic and workplace gains we have made over the years. Changes to the province’s Trade Union Act were also ushered in with the essential services law. These measures make it more difficult for unorganized workers to join unions.


Saskatchewan’s working families deserve a fair collective

Services

bargaining process.

it’s our right Challenging the attack on our rights

SGEU is actively fighting the government’s assault on your rights and freedoms as a public employee and union member. SGEU, along with our National Union (NUPGE), launched a complaint against the essential services legislation and the Trade Union Act changes with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations’ body that oversees labour issues. SGEU is also taking on both anti-worker laws as part of a coalition of Saskatchewan unions who have launched a legal challenge. The Sask Party government’s attack on working families is an illegitimate and illegal attack on your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The ILO has agreed with SGEU that the Sask Party government’s anti-worker labour laws violate our rights and freedoms as union members. The ILO publicly rebuked the

Saskatchewan government and recommended significant changes to the existing laws. Despite this censure, the Wall government openly stated it would simply ignore the ILO decision.

Union members and supporters came out to a May Day rally this year to call for more respect for working people.

Tarnishing Saskatchewan’s legacy The Wall government’s actions tarnish our province’s proud tradition as a leader in social justice, human rights and labour relations. Tommy Douglas ushered in some of the most fair and forward-thinking labour laws in North America, including giving public employees the right to strike and all citizens a strong Trade Union Act. Now Brad Wall is throwing away that Saskatchewan legacy. We cannot allow government to undercut working families, who need and deserve a fair collective bargaining process to maintain and improve hard-won union gains — decent wages and benefits, pensions, and reasonable working conditions.

Election 2011 • 31


Public services:

worth preserving www.sgeu.org

SGEU election magazine  

Published by the Saskatchewan and Government and General Employees' Union, 2011

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