‘We Own It’ says Public = Better

Finding out what happens when public services go private

Len Elliott Regional VP of OPSEU, Shirley Roebuck of the Ontario Health Coalition, Councillor Brian White and Former MPP Rosario Marchese talk Privatization with We Own It

A full room at the Clearwater Arena Tuesday evening heard a group that wants to stop the privatization of public services.

The group—”We Own It”—talked about hydro rates and health care as well as police services.  Members of the community along with those from the service unions sector and health care even City Council raised red flags about public services being sold off, and they say not for the better of taxpayers.

Councillor Brian White was in attendance along with Shirley Roebuck of the Ontario Health Coalition, Len Elliott who is the regional VP of OPSEU and former MPP Rosario Marchese sounded the trumpet of Hydro One Not For Sale, but that was not the only public entity that was being spoken of.

Roebuck, who has been instrumental in the creation of the Sarnia Lambton Health Coalition along with the Chatham Kent Health Coalition, has been an advocate in the fight against the privatization of health care services says the process of selling off health care is quite advanced.  Talking of the privatization of elderly care facilities which has changed drastically, to not only caring for the elderly but now are facilities handling, diabetic patients, those that suffer from Alzheimer disease, chronic crohns and colitis, Roebuck says many of the staff are not fully equipped to handle such patients because private owners do not put forth the proper training.

Roebuck also explained that with private clinics, simple things like warm blankets, when waiting for a procedure, are charged for, sometimes up to $40 (and you do not get to keep the blanket either).  She says that experienced RNs and RPNs are lured away from the public health field by these private clinics because they are offered more pay and easier working conditions.  This leaves a shortage of well trained experienced people in hospitals where they are greatly needed.

Roebuck says there is a way to fight privatization and cuts to health care and the proof is just down Highway 40.  The creation of the Wallaceburg Walpole Health Coalition saved the Wallaceburg Hospital from closing and the community outcry got the hospital more funding and more beds, so it can be done she said.

Councillor  White says when public services get privatized that is just more money not going back into the community but into big business wallets.  He says there has to be a fair tax system, not a tax system for the middle class and a tax system for big business but a fair system across the board.  When asked about the idea of privatizing Police Services, White says he is not in favour of that at all.  He believes that Sarnia has a very good force and areas like crime scene analysis, forensic identification, should be left to those properly trained by the police to handle such delicate jobs.

The presentation focused on the story of the day, raising hydro rates and how the sell-off of Hydro One has affected everyone’s hydro bill.  Rosario Marchese, who was an MPP and Parliamentary Assistant to then Premier Bob Rae, says Hydro One must go back into the hands of the people as well as keeping other public services where they should be with the people.  Marchese had a chart showing where hydro rates started to skyrocket and pinpoints that to the privatization of the industry

With a provincial election less than a year away “We Own It” and other groups will be holding more open forums like this one to discuss issues.  Shirley Roebuck says health coalitions all around our area will be holding all candidates meetings as we get closer to the election to discuss things like privatization of public services and how it will affect us.

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