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February 24, 2012

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Public Services threatened in Prince George

PRINCE GEORGE—The Prince George Select Committee on Business gave their final report of recommendations to City Council this week.

The report includes 16 suggestions for improvements on how to create a “better environment for business to grow and generate new jobs” as well as six examples of what the City is currently doing well.

Ensuring that the City is “open to innovative contract solutions...outside the traditional procurement approaches” is one suggestion that has left CUPE 1048 president, Janet Bigelow, wondering if the recent cuts to public services are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

“We can only wonder what ‘open to innovative procurement options’ really means,” said Bigelow, “but it sure seems to suggest that our Mayor and Councillors may have public-private partnership (P3) plans pending.” Bigelow also noted that this report was generated by only handful of community members, all of whom share a common business interest.

“We’ve now heard from the business community,” said Bigelow, “but what about the rest of the community, doesn’t our mayor, Shari Green, represent everyone in Prince George?”

P3s are a form of privatization that result in the control of public assets and services being turned over to a private partner.

Public Private Partnerships (PPP) Canada was established in 2009 and has a fund of $1.2 billion to promote private operation and financing of public infrastructure and services. Communities across the country have recently been forced to consider P3s because the Harper government is telling them there is no other option by claiming that funding for public infrastructure has dried up.

According to Bigelow P3s often result in higher costs for the community, a lower quality of service and loss of public control.

CUPE 399 president, Gary Campbell, said both locals won’t let public services take a backseat in Prince George.

CUPE 399, CUPE 1048 and the Stand up for the North Committee will be hosting a free community event March 7, at the College of New Caledonia. The “Keep it Local, Keep it Public” event will feature a screening of the film “Water Makes Money” followed by a panel discussion.

“This event will focus on educating the community on the importance of keeping resources public,” said Campbell, “public services are a vital part of what makes Prince George a great place to live and we can’t let our local government keep cutting these services.”

Click here for more information on the “Keep it Local, Keep it Public Event”.

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