FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is raising concerns over the possible creation of a new working group by Mayor Sutcliffe meant to look into the possibility of contracting out public services to the private sector.
According to the framework document, the working group will review city services and look at different “service delivery options” after the review which would include “Internal As Is, Internal Re-Engineering, Managed Competition, Contracting Out, and Public-Private-Partnerships (P3).”
Council had previously discussed in a motion the possibility of the auditor being involved in a line-by-line audit instead of the proposed committee, preferring instead a neutral party and not this more political committee which could include, according to media reports, “industry experts from private organizations.”
Both motions will be debated at the city’s Audit Committee later this week on February 17th and will be debated by council on March 1st.
“Approving the creation of this working group would be an egregious attack on the public services we rely on everyday in this city,” said Sam Hersh, a Board Member of Horizon Ottawa. “We know that public services are best delivered by public entities and the disastrous privatization scheme that is the LRT has been proof of that.”
The move from Sutcliffe is similar to the actions of former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who, in 2010 launched a "core services review" of public services. The final report from the review suggested a multitude of cuts to things like public libraries and childcare spaces and encouraged privatizing parts of Toronto's transit system. The review was heavily criticized and led to massive labour unrest.
Many cities across the country from Saint John’s to Sherbrooke to Fort McMurray have moved away from contracting out in one form or another to in-house services as it has often led to a lower quality of service, worse working conditions and a bigger tab for municipalities. Edmonton was the most recent city to have rejected a controversial contracting-out proposal in 2021 that would have led to the loss of over 100 well-paying union jobs for transit cleaners.
“The research is clear: keeping the work in-house ultimately lowers costs, increases local capacity and ensures a high degree of transparency and accountability,” said Hersh. “Mayor Sutcliffe’s fruitless quest for “efficiencies” will cost people their jobs and will cost residents across this city some of the quality municipal public services they’re used to.”
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