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Say no to privatization in government

By in Opinions

Private PrisonPrivatization is not always the answer when it comes to government-based matters in the province of Saskatchewan. Yes, I’m talking to you Brad Wall and every person who supports the Saskatchewan Party.

In a move to become more efficient, the Government of Saskatchewan is looking at outsourcing meals at correctional facilities — especially those near a large enough centre so that meals can be provided with ease. For the most part this proposal includes facilities in and around Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Regina.

In case you haven’t caught on as to why I’m referring to this move as a method of privatization, let me explain.

First off, privatization generally refers to transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service (emphasis on the public service) from the public sector to the private. Hence, outsourcing meals at correctional facilities is a perfect example of privatization. We might as well just hire McDonald’s to feed the masses. Sheesh!

Now, I must stress that this only might happen, though Bob Bymoen of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employment Union has stated that “It’s a done deal,” according to an article in The Star Phoenix.

Bymoen notes that the government has a mandate to reduce government spending by 15 per cent, which is the primary cause for the evaluation of these services. But that’s not even the part of this whole bag of nonsense that really bothers me.

Through a private consultation process, food services were deemed as “not a core function” of correctional facilities. What utter malarky!

Clearly inmates are in prison for a reason, but they’ve got to eat to survive. How a government can agree that food services are not a core function is beyond me, but I welcome someone to explain that one to me.

Food, water and shelter are essential services for all individuals — be they in prison or not. Philosophically, the provincial government has gotten off track with this one. I’d like to see the Sask. Party survive without food for a few days to see if they’d change their minds about calling it “not a core service.”

The whole push for the government to consider this option of outsourcing meals is due to financial reasons. Let’s all bow down to the almighty dollar, since it rules the world.

Supposedly the money saved by outsourcing meals could be used and reinvested in other aspects of the correctional facilities or in the management of crime in Saskatchewan.

Of course we should be focusing more on crime prevention as opposed to criminalization, but taking money away from what I consider to be a core service is pitiful to say the least — especially when government jobs are lost.

If the change goes through — and it sounds like it will — 62 people would be affected: 24 full-time and 38 part-time workers.

But what are the benefits for the government in doing this? If the government is able to privatize food services at correctional facilities and, subsequently, lay-off 62 workers, they will obviously save a lot of money. They won’t only be saving money on general salaries for these workers, but also on all the benefits that go along with a government job.

Avoiding expenditures on pension and health plans for employees the government doesn’t really care about sure is a great way to save money. And really, 62 jobs lost really isn’t that bad. I’m sure those workers will find work in the private industry where worker benefits are few and far between and salaries are substantially lower.

In the 2012-13 fiscal year, it cost the government $3.7 million to feed inmates, so I wonder how much cash they will actually be spending and saving should these proposed changes go through?

My heart goes out to anyone who ever loses their job because of privatization of industry. And I think we’d all be wise to think critically when privatization occurs.

Sure there are financial benefits, but what are the costs at the human level? I know that money matters, especially to the government (as it should), but let’s not forget that people matter too.

Graphic: Rhea Lonsdale

  • robert thomas

    The biggest misconception in today’s popular view of economics is that Private companies = efficient. Efficiency is not lucrative to private enterprise. I have worked for many inefficient companies and saw waste at the top, ie. a maid to brush the carpet all in one direction after vacuuming the Meeting room/frat house. Secondly, every penny spend on public goods that goes to private companies as profit is waste for the public sector. If a company makes a meal and makes a profit for what the taxbase is paying for, we the taxpayers are paying too much.

    Public sectors can be efficient, they have just been under propaganda scrutiny for too long by business people who do not know how to make it in the private realm so instead they want the easy money of overcharging taxpayers.

  • Barack

    If they say they are going to save money, I dont see why this is a bad idea. Its not like they are starving the inmates, they are just outsourcing who makes their food. Who the hell really cares if its not a public employee making the inmates food!

    • Taxpayer

      The gov’t isn’t interested in saving money. I quote Dennis Cooley, “The direct delivery of food services is not a core function of the Ministry.” They want to reduce the gov’t workforce by 15% whether it saves money or not. As a tax payer I would like to see the gov’t make a resposible decision so you and I don’t have to pay more taxes.

    • SKPArtySUCKS

      According to the news, people of PA were told the gov is looking at an American company. Why should the gov send our tax dollars to the US? Or like the laid off laundry workers, pay an Alberta company to do the job? Why take away jobs from the people of SK? Everyone knows if you don’t support the middle-class, the economy goes down. It’s a vicious cycle. It won’t stop here, this is just the first steps. If Brad Wall had it his way, this entire province would be privatized, even Crowns. Brad Wall asked Potash Corp to rethink layoffs of 400 employees last month. But tsk, tsk, here he is doing it to his own people.

  • lulu

    well a large portion of the working class depends on Micky D’s to feed them and their kids they would get the same nutritional source as people working. Although i have never been a Saskatchewan Party supporter, i don’t hate this idea It will give local groups more support and those places will likely have to hire people to staff the side project of cooking for the prisons and this may create more jobs. Privatization does not always = BAD as long as there are rules and legislation put in place properly. people have to stop Fighting Good vs bad this party against that party ect, it helps nothing there needs a mix of everything to make things run smoothly and well.

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