World Environment Day & Canadian Clean Air Day
June 5, 2013
World Oceans Day
June 8, 2013
Canadian Rivers Day
June 9, 2013
June 16, 2013
National Aboriginal Day & First Day of Summer
June 21, 2013
FRONT PAGE NEWS
P3s wrong model
BY DAVID WEIR, THE LEADER-POST MAY 18, 2013
Your May 7 article (Project 'doesn't make any sense': economist), states: "Proceeding with a public private partnership (P3) to upgrade the city's waste water treatment plant is going to cost Regina taxpayers $60 million more than if the city paid for the project itself."
Economist Hugh Mackenzie's study also concluded that even after subtracting the expected federal funding, the P3 model would still be more expensive.
P3s are very costly. In essence, the city is hiring a private operator to borrow money to finance part of the plant.
The private partner must pay higher interest rates to borrow than the city and will expect to make a profit each and every year. In addition, the costs to structure a complex P3 deal are substantially more than the costs of straightforward public borrowing.
The city claims the only available federal funding requires a P3 model. Without P3 strings attached, the proposed $50 million federal contribution could be used to reduce the cost of our $200-million wastewater plant to $150 million.
With a P3, the $50-million federal grant will not be used to reduce the cost of the project to citizens of Regina. It will be misused to pay the higher private interest charges, the profit demanded by the private partner and the higher P3 deal structuring charges - enriching bankers, lawyers and financiers.
The Harper government should help fund infrastructure. But requiring the P3 model squanders our tax dollars to support their friends in business.
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post
Speaker whips P3s in health care
By Will Chabun, Leader-Post May 16, 2013
P3s are out; the new lingo for what used to be called public-private partnerships is "PFI" - for "private finance initiative".
"We call it 'pure financial idiocy'!" quipped John Lister, a "campaigning journalist" specializing in health care, who delivered a blistering attack on the concept of using private firms to finance and sometimes operate public services like hospitals.
On a speaking and research tour of Canada, Lister said the result of England's current generation of PFIs, in place since about 2002, has been "almost entirely negative".
Politically, they came about under Tony Blair's government, avowedly Labour, but figuring there is a "third way" between doctrinaire socialism and hardball capitalism. It authorized constructions of a network of small hospitals built under PFIs - all apparently built without input from staff and to a single, inadequate design.
As a result, Lister told a news conference Wednesday organized by the Canadian Union of Public Employees - a leader in the political fight against expanded P3s or PFIs in this province - some were built without space for medical secretaries, administrators or other support staff, which had to be put in storage areas without windows or air conditioning.
As well, cleaning, catering, parking and retail shops were handled by private firms under contract, robbing hospitals of the profits from these activities.
Staff could not even hang notice boards or charts as they were told the walls "don't belong to you" and this work had to be done, with a hefty charge, by the private firm owning the building.
Worse, said Lister, who holds a doctorate in healthcare economics and teaches at Britain's Coventry University, the worst element was this: The money to build these too-small hospitals had to be borrowed by private firms at a rate far higher than Her Majesty's government could borrow it. The private firms get their money back from the healthcare trusts - comparable to health regions - through watertight contracts requiring the latter to make payments well into the future.
So a hospital facing hard financial times can't shed contracts. "The only thing you can control is the number of doctors and nurses you employ, and the services you provide," Lister said.
Because of this, and a British government policy against bailing out healthcare trusts, the first one entered bankruptcy in 2005, and had to be rescued by merging it with a second one, then a third, and closing the latter's units and selling them for redevelopment, Lister said. He added that recent reports indicate 22 other trusts with 60 hospitals are in financial trouble.
Another report, brought down last May, said the English system of health-care P3s or PFIs was "unsustainable" and lacks transparency and accountability.
As well, the original investments in hospitals have been sold and resold so that some are in the hands of foreign investors who don't even pay income tax in England, Lister said.
"This is a very, very expensive way to do it," he said. "The money could be better spent on other projects than in lining the pockets of somebody."
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-PostRead more: http://www.leaderpost.com/news/Speaker+whips+health+care/8392176/story.html#ixzz2TfAoDK4w
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 13, 2013
WORKING PEOPLE’S INTERESTS IGNORED WITH PASSAGE OF BILL 85
Working people across Saskatchewan were disappointed today to learn that, in spite of the warnings of academics and the concerns of thousands, the Government of Saskatchewan has forced Bill 85 through the Legislature. The sweeping rewrite of provincial labour legislation, drafted without meaningful consultation with working people, can now be brought into force at the whim of the government.
“We, like many people across the province, were extremely disappointed to learn that our government has decided to ignore the advice of Saskatchewan working people and passed Bill 85,” said Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour. “We have received thousands of messages from parents, students, and other working people that are seriously concerned about the regressive effects of the legislation. The government has an obligation to consult prior to making such fundamental changes, and they have failed to fulfill it.”
Bill 85 was introduced into the Legislature in December of 2012 and will, within a matter of months, fundamentally change the laws for working in our province. Prior to introducing the bill, the government conducted no meaningful consultation with the people that will be most affected and provided little rational for changes that are needlessly contentious and unfair. In response to the proposed legislative changes, which include the elimination of the weekend, stripping some working people out of their unions, and barring others from joining unions entirely, to name a few, the SFL has received thousands of messages of concern.
“Bill 85 is just another example of how our government is willing to put its own agenda ahead of the best interests of Saskatchewan working people. At a time when so many in our province are doing so well, we should not be rolling our standards for work back by decades. There is no pressing reason to make such changes.”
The SFL represents over 98,000 working people across the province in 37 affiliated unions.
Labour relations may get rockier
By Murray Mandryk, The Leader-Post May 11, 2013
To always define the Saskatchewan Party government's relationship with labour as rocky is to confine the definition of the word "labour" in a way it shouldn't be confined.
Yes, the word does refer to the "labour movement", "organized labour" and "union labour leadership" that's had a tumultuous relationship with Premier Brad Wall.
But the definition of labour also includes "the human activity that provides the goods and services in an economy". In that context, Friday's monthly labour statistics suggest a spectacular relationship.
April employment increased by 16,700 more jobs than a year ago - a for-the-month record of 548,000 working Saskatchewan people. Unemployment was the lowest in Canada (four per cent). Even the normally discouraging, off-reserve aboriginal employment increased by 1,500 jobs (3.8 per cent), while the aboriginal unemployment rate fell to 12 per cent from 14.5 per cent a year ago.
However, if the Sask. Party government has no "labour problem" when it comes to people finding jobs, it would then seem logical to ask why we need to hastily overhaul 107 year's worth of Saskatchewan labour law and stuff it into one omnibus bill without the proper time to assess the (unintended or otherwise) consequences.
Admittedly, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour President Larry Hubich and other labour leaders haven't done themselves any favours by taking public shots at the Sask. Party government at every available opportunity. But one can also understand the frustration of labour leaders over both the lack of input and the hasty way the Sask. Party is pushing Bill 85 through without proper public hearings.
Of course, ramming through Bill 85 is being pushed by Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) Saskatchewan director Marilyn Braun-Pollon and other business advocates. Strangely, such lobbyists have been far less eager to see the Sask. Party push through another bill restricting lobbyists that was actually introduced 17 months ago.
But it's just nonsensical to push through this omnibus labour bill - especially in the current economic climate. Consider University of Toronto labour law professor David Doorey, who said in a recent blog that the Sask. Party government's labour policy makes no sense when it comes to addressing Saskatchewan's biggest labour problem of attracting "some 60,000 new workers to the Prairie province in the next 5-7 years to meet the labour demand."
"Labour and employment laws can play a role in this (bid to attract workers)," Doorey writes. "They can help encourage high-paying jobs with stable hours and decent benefits of the sort that workers like."
Instead, Doorey contends Bill 85 "lowers employment standards protections and injects instability and uncertainty into the labour relations climate" because "it reduces statutory protections for workers and undermines collective bargaining rights."
One might take umbrage with a pro-labour academic's assertion that "reducing statutory protections and collective bargaining coverage has never, anywhere, led to higher wages, better benefits, and less precarious jobs." But Doorey does offer valid points that Bill 85 "is a lesson in opacity and ambiguity" and is failing spectacularly in the government's claimed objective "to simplify the law".
The U of T prof further argues that the key to interprovincial migration - arguably, the most important factor in sustaining both job and population growth into the future - is "pursuing policies that encourage stable, full-time, high-paying jobs." To subscribe to laws that most gratify the CFIB and other business groups may not be a solid, long-term employment strategy.
Doorey acknowledges booming natural resources "which do not move in search of lower labour costs" will "not be a deterrent to job creation in Saskatchewan". However, "high wages, good benefits, stable hours" are still key ingredients in attracting workers.
Moreover, should the Saskatchewan job market cool off because of a resource-sector slowdown (which, historically, has been an inevitability in this province), then employees working under weakened labour laws might look for better pay/working conditions elsewhere. As such, a bad Bill 85 could hurt us in the long run, so it's in the long-term interests of us all to make sure we get it right now.
To suggest the Sask. Party government has bad relations with labour is to not explore the full definition of the term. That said, Wall and others would be well advised to remember that "labour" also means more than lots of good jobs popping up in good economic times.
Mandryk is the political columnist for the Leader-Post.
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post
REGINA WATER WATCH
Read it and let your friends, family and co-workers know about it. Let's keep fighting for accountability and transparency from our elected officials.
A 50-year record snowfall, late spring, and the possibility of a quick melt have CUPE 21members out on the streets. City of Regina outside workers from parks, sewer, and irrigation are working hard to protect low-lying areas ...
Local 21 members photo gallery ...http://cupe.ca/gallery2/v/CUPE21Sandbaggin_001/
P3s and infrastructure funding in Canada
In the April CCPA Monitor there is an article by David Macdonald entitled Flaherty’s 2013 Budget actually cuts infrastructure funding. “---- (his) budget has effectively reduced infrastructure funding from $1.25 billion (annually) to $210 million.”
There is further discussion about how the majority of the regular infrastructure moneys won’t be issued for another seven years and adds “The long delay in infrastructure funding also delays economic stimulus and job creation when they are most needed”.
The (2013) Budget does “renew the P-3 fund at $1.25 billion over five years but this program – which requires joint public and private participation – is very unpopular with most Canadian cities, who seldom make use of it. It requires them to give control to the corporate partners and pay more in interest on long-term projects.
The previous P-3 fund incarnation has spent only about 30% of its total allocation. In fact, half of the previous P-3 fund has no plans for its use at all. To build on this stupendous failure, as Flaherty has done, is to ensure there will be even more money that the cities can’t or won’t use.
So it appears there are two kinds of infrastructure money----what cities want is being limited and what they don’t want is being pushed!
Ralph & Catherine (Gibson) Brooks
Regina Water Watch
Exemption or Debt Increase
Wilma Staff (former City of Regina Alderman)
Regina City Council wants to privatize our waste water treatment plant
We need to collect 20,000 petition signatures so the public can have a vote.
The privatization of the waste water treatment plant was not discussed during the election, there was no consultation prior to the decision and so far the City s refusing to release the whole business case.
EVEN IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT THE CITY'S PROPOSAL, THE PETITION AND VOTE WILL CAUSE A FULL PUBLIC DEBATE.
HERE'S HOW TO HELP
Download the petition at www.reginawaterwatch.ca Or, contact us, and we will get you copies of the petition.
Getting signatures from your family and friends is crucial. We have until June 20 to collect signatures. It can be done. In 2007, we collected 26,000 signatures to save our libraries.
If 200 people collect 100 signatures each, we will reach our goal. Some people have already collected over 100 signatures. Please let us know if you will pledge to collect 100
Every signature will count.
Join our Facebook group: Keep Regina's Water Public.
Leave a message at 306-522-2310
Regina Water Watch is a citizens' coalition whose goal is to keep water public.
James A Holmes email@example.com
Update to Bill 85
This morning's edition of the Huffington Post contained in-depth coverage of Bill 85's potential impact in Saskatchewan and elsewhere in the country. Follow this link to read the Fairwork Saskatchewan's website:
Bill 85: The Saskatchewan Employment Act
This is real …
Bill 85 will turn the clock back on workers’ rights by 100 years.
The “new” Saskatchewan Employment Act is unfair to workers.
Stand up for fairness.
On December 4, 2012, the government of Saskatchewan introduced its 184-page Bill 85, which will amend 12 pieces of provincial legislation, including The Labour Standards Act,The Occupational Health and Safety Act, and The Trade Union Act.
The newSaskatchewan Employment Act, which Bill 85 will establish, is a sweeping rewrite of Saskatchewan’s labour laws. Unfortunately, the government is proposing, within the span of only a few months, to fundamentally change laws that have evolved over decades in our province.
Bill 85 will eliminate:
The Government's current plan is to pass Bill 85 in May of this year, unless people across the province make their voices heard.
Email your MLA, send a message to the Minister of Labour below, and tell your friends and family that we deserve better than Bill 85!
Sign the petition: