/Join the teachers on Feb. 21

Join the teachers on Feb. 21

To the Editor

In 1997 Barbara Ehrenreich published an essay titled Spinning the Poor into Gold: How corporations seek to profit from welfare reform based on her experience attending a conference billed as an opportunity to “Capitalize on the massive growth potential of the new world of welfare reform… Profit from the opportunities available.”

Over the years since I have watched as the privatization of welfare health education water and other government services has spread around the world as governments are convinced that removing services from the public purse seems like a good idea and provides quick cash to put against some debt brought about by the feverish need for tax cuts and corporate subsidies. The result in the U.S. and the U.K. where this has been going on for years is poorer profit-driven service lower wages and overall higher costs.

In Ontario after a campaign of American-style propaganda outright lies and deficit chicanery the current Ontario government feels it has a mandate to strip assets and move them into the private sector under the guise of “cutting red tape and efficiencies.”

The Ontario government has just quietly launched a three-year pilot program in for-profit welfare in Hamilton-Niagara Peel and Muskoka-Kawartha.

Quoting the Catholic Register: “These three regions will be the forerunners of a province-wide system the government has already mapped out. Eventually Ontario will be carved into 15 regions. In each region municipalities non-profits and for-profit corporations will be invited to bid through a ‘Request for Proposals’ process to manage the caseload of clients on Ontario Works (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) in each region.”

Also watch for more propaganda about the wonders of private public partnerships (P3s) for hospitals etc. that seem in the long run to leave the profits to the corporations and the costs to the public. The classic is the Hwy 407 deal.

Turning to education. I am now very fortunate it seems to have gone through the Ontario public school system during the Bill Davis years when the baby boom required new schools and there was a real interest in education. The government invested heavily in education and there was a general sense that government actually cared and responded to public need.

Now we have a government whose actions rather than words demonstrate no interest in quality public education. The minister who comes from a private school background is promoting the idea that Ontario model our education system (e-learning) after Alabama the poorest ranked education system in the U.S. Ontario has a top ranked public system and the RepubliCons are intent on a private organization dismantling it. The teachers are being vilified with fake ads and now the government is suggesting that teachers should be tested for math competency. This from a government who did a big “oops” on the size of the budget that was the basis and rationale for all the cost-cutting and “efficiences.” Many parents and students are now facing the nightmare the new policies are creating.

There is an obvious thrust for more privatization of education health welfare and other services in Ontario. The teachers are standing up against what they can see to be very detrimental to a future Ontario. If you want to show some resistance to these and other government policies join the teachers on Friday Feb. 21 for the one-day province-wide strike for better education and a better future. And don’t stop there. Resist where you see the need. It is past time to push back.

Eric Lilius