TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 6, 2012) - An act hidden in the Liberals' omnibus budget bill makes it impossible for MPPs to be accountable to their constituents, Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, will tell the province's Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs tonight.
"We disagree with this austerity budget. It will kill jobs and hurt communities across Ontario. But Schedule 28 is a huge problem that hasn't received the public attention it should. It undermines some of our core democratic principles," Hahn says. "It moves major decisions about selling off crown corporations and handing over public services to multinational corporations to the back rooms. It means MPPs and the Ontario public might not even know about sell-offs of public services and assets, and that is just wrong."
Last week, CUPE Ontario released a legal opinion on Schedule 28 by Steven Shrybman of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP. The document exposed the true dangers of the Act, which is buried in Bill 55. Contrary to government claims, Schedule 28 does not only address Service Ontario.
According to Shrybman, who will join Hahn for tonight's presentation, the act will:
- Allow almost any crown corporation or government service to be sold or privatized, all without ever going before the legislature for debate or a vote
- Move decision making to the back rooms, making scandals like ORNGE and eHealth more likely
- Open the door for contracting out OHIP services to a U.S. HMO, or school curriculum development to a multinational corporation
Earlier this week, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan indicated an amendment to Schedule 28 may be in the works. To date, no amendment has been made public, and CUPE Ontario believes the only solution is to remove Schedule 28 from Bill 55 altogether.
"There is no way to amend Schedule 28 enough. It's an Act that erodes democracy and accountability. It's something that no party campaigned on," Hahn says. "Something that big should be debated in the legislature or in an election."
Tomorrow, labour and community groups will deliver "a crate of ORNGEs" to MPPs in Kitchener and Windsor to protest Schedule 28.
CUPE Ontario is the province's largest union. It represents more than 230,000 workers in five main sectors: health care, school boards, municipalities, social services and universities.
To download Steven Shrybman's analysis of Schedule 28, visit www.cupe.on.ca/budget.