Local communities rally against privatization

By Angela Brown
March 16, 2017 - 12:00pm

Local residents in North Battleford and Meadow Lake showed their support for a group opposing privatization at town hall meetings this week.

COPE Local 397 held meetings to raise awareness about the province's proposed Bill 40 which redefines that amount of private ownership permitted in a Crown corporation. The bill goes to final reading this spring.

"Call your MLA, lobby the council members and share this with your friends and neighbours," Kim Wilson, president of Saskatchewan union Canadian Office and Professional Employees (COPE) said. "The government needs to realize it is not theirs to sell. It belongs to the people of Saskatchewan. It's not theirs to sell any of the Crowns."

She said about 25 people attended the North Battleford Town Hall and about 35 were at the Meadow Lake event.

"I feel the public is realizing the importance of our Crowns and the value of them to the people of Saskatchewan," Wilson said. 

COPE local 397 is holding town hall meetings throughout the province this month to speak to residents to protest the province's proposal of Bill 40 to allow it to be able to sell up to 49 per cent of a Crown corporation, in the process would not be considered privatization. In effect, a Crown corporation could be close to half owned privately and still be called a Crown entity.

Wilson said she is hearing strong community support against the bill.

"People spoke up and thanked us for coming. They promised to share the word with their firends and neighours. They were going to lobby the government to stop this privatization," she added. "They want the government to stop Bill 40. They don't support the sale of the Crowns."

"Our grandchildren will suffer. We are not even going to afford to put them into dance and ... hockey, expensive things. If one of the (parents) is laid off because of the sale, that hurts the family and the whole community because the dollars to spend aren't there anymore," she said.  

She said some of the Crown corporations at risk include SaskTel, and other large employers.

While the government would be saving money by privatizing part of the Crown corporations, Wilson said if the province wants to privatize to reduce its high debt load the residents shouldn't be the pawn in the deal, because they will suffer the most if Crown corporations are sold. 

She said she also worries about the impact on dividends if the Crowns are sold.

"It would mean losing dividends that come back into Saskatchewan for better health, roads and schools," she said.  "Last year alone $297.2 million was returned to the province in dividends. If you saw off 49 per cent of that, you take a chunk away."


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