McFadyen’s Record on Privatization is Clear
Mar 30, 2007
It was ten years ago this week that the former Progressive Conservative government of Gary Filmon announced that Manitoba Health had selected Olsten Health Services to deliver home care services to new clients in Winnipeg. In short, this was the first step in an effort to privatize home care. At the time, the arrangement was deemed, “the best model to use to deliver high quality patient care while curtailing escalation of costs.”
We know what happened shortly after that. On April 16, 1996, hundreds of MGEU home care workers went on strike to protest the privatization of our home care program. When it was proven that home care services could not be delivered better and/or cheaper by a private company, the government backed off on its privatization plans and home care remained within the public sector.
Thanks to the efforts of home care workers and their clients and families, Manitobans receive a wide range of publicly-funded community support services. Lessons were learned by all those affected by the 1996 home care strike.
Ten years later, we still need to be vigilant to ensure that such vital services like home care remain public. There have been a number of statements given recently by Hugh McFadyen that underline why it’s important that we make public services an election issue when Premier Gary Doer drops the writ.
Conservative leader McFadyen recently stated that, if elected, he would “expand the private market for specialty wine stores.” One has to wonder if the desire to privatize the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission would be far behind. We know from the troubled experiment in Alberta that this is a path that Manitoba does not want to follow.
McFadyen has also shown support for privatized medicine, where people with the ability to pay may jump the queue to receive health care services. He told the Winnipeg Free Press that health care was not a major priority for his party (November 1, 2006). He told the Brandon Sun that he “would give people the right to purchase private (health) services.” Seems pretty clear.
McFadyen is on the record about the Conservative Party’s support of a “rebranded” Manitoba Hydro should they form government. He said recently that he wouldn’t privatize Hydro and yet he had this to say to the Winnipeg Sun on November 13, 2006: “We would look at involving the private sector to finance hydro projects.” Is this a back door route to privatizing a crown jewel of the Manitoba economy? Manitobans may want to ask the former senior Filmon aide what he means exactly when he comes asking for your vote.
It’s important to remember that, as a senior aide to former Premier Gary Filmon, Mr. McFadyen was a key architect of the much-maligned sale of the Manitoba Telephone System in 1996 (the same year they tried to privatize home care). He bragged about it on the Tory website. This is a high point for the rookie Tory leader, even though his party had stated they would not privatize MTS? They lied to Manitobans. Did you know that today Gary Filmon sits on the MTS Board of Directors?
Can the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba really be trusted with as valuable a crown corporation as Hydro? What about Autopac? Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) ensures that motorists in our province enjoy among the lowest insurance rates in the country. Premiums in provinces like Ontario are often more than twice what they are in Manitoba. Would that be part of a Tory plan to sell off Manitoba’s public assets?
The same kinds of question can be asked when it comes to privatizing jails – do we want to incarcerate our community’s most dangerous individuals with a corporation whose most important consideration is a decent return for stockholders? Other jurisdictions do it.
With a provincial election looming, we need to ensure we hold the politicians’ feet to the fire when it comes to answering questions about their commitment to providing quality, affordable public services. Or, as we have seen in the past, would they be willing to mortgage our future and roll the dice on privatization even when it doesn’t make dollars or sense?
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