Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Heather Whiteside discusses how the privatization schemes being toyed with at all levels of government represent nothing more than reckless gambling with public money and goods:
When a federal, provincial, or municipal government builds a bridge, a highway, a school, or a hospital, we know who owns it: we, the people. But when equity changes hands, which happens frequently with these kinds of deals, the companies originally hired by the government to partner in a P3 are no longer the owners. So the private equity partners that any given government thinks it’s bringing to the poker game might not stay until the last hand is dealt.

Equity holders are the private partner of a P3 project. Their role is consequential: they run the operations and maintenance of whatever got built — a hospital, school, highway, or bridge. They set highway tolls, they collect user fees, they hire and fire staff, they set targets and standards. And they earn the revenue. Private profit, not necessarily high quality, affordable, accessible public services, would be their main priority.

When private partners sell their equity stake to new project companies after the P3 contract is struck, community projects are turned into mere budget line items in a global asset portfolio. Transactions favour the top bidder, not necessarily the best quality partner. Public assets become equity trading cards, changing ownership hands multiple times.

Whether highways or hospitals, the bottom-line determines the rules of the game and private partners are [hoarding] the gains. For instance, private equity in Vancouver’s Diamond Centre P3 hospital has already changed hands twice since 2007; but the hands of the hospital’s public partner are tied — the new equity holders hire and fire the cleaning and maintenance contractors.
Instead of opening the flood gates, the public must have a say: Canada should be taking steps to control or bar equity sales, to avoid a future where public infrastructure is exposed to remote investor decision-making, profit leeching through user fees, offshore revenue loss for communities, distorted value for money, and a lack of accountability.
- Brian Alexander examines the decline of one Ohio town in noting that the instability and precarity facing far too many workers and communities can largely be traced to corporate control over economic decisions. And Jordan Press reports on a federal government study showing how many jobs are in danger of being automated in the near future, while Alexander Panetta looks at the effects of foreseeable technological changes in greater detail.

- Lana Payne writes that women are rightly tired of waiting for promises of pay equity to be fulfilled. And the Canadian Press reports on a much-needed push for Saskatchewan to join the jurisdictions moving to ensure that people facing domestic violence aren't punished in the workplace.

- Finally, Robert Cribb, Vjosa Isai and Maham Shakeel expose the growth of pay-for-play health care in Ontario - which of course makes for a growing problem across Canada due to a lack of adequate resources for our universal health care system.

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