Wednesday, 18 September 2013

CUPE vs City of Regina?

Good morning Regina!!

First off, I just want to quickly mention, for those of you who did not attend last night, or watch the LIVE stream, I have officially announced my intentions to seek nomination for the Liberal Party of Canada in the next Federal Election. I will post more details on that in the coming weeks. For now, here is the link to the stream for your viewing pleasure.

Now, this past week, the University of Regina "Carillon" posted an editorial that was, in my opinion, quite one sided and very misleading. I have asked how to clear the air on what I feel is misleading, and I was told I could submit a Letter to the Editor. I'm confident that it's far too long, and probably far too factual, to get published, so here is the letter in it's entirety.


In response to the Carillon (U of R student publication) editorial "This September, Vote No To CUPE", I feel there are some extreme myths that are being shared that, sadly, even they have fallen prey to. The City of Regina has been deliberately muddying the waters, pun intended, in order to confuse and distract the voters from the real issues at hand.

First off, remember 24,000+ taxpaying citizens signed the petition. TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND!! Do you honestly believe that many folks were "duped" by the Regina Water Watch (RWW) folks into whatever ridiculous message it is that the City of Regina is saying that RWW had "deliberately misinformed" petition signers? This is a ludicrous claim, and one that I find appauling that the City would even suggest. The fact of the matter is, this IS about our water supply, this IS about protecting a public resource that many in our world don't have the ability to even have access to. This IS about the citizens rights, and respecting democracy. No matter how you slice it, the fact of the matter is that ALL WATER goes back into the ecosystem to eventually become another's drinking water. Where do you think our water comes from? Also, keep in mind it wasn't that long ago that the City of Regina had taken on massive advertising campaigns to remind us how important our entire water system is, including wastewater, in an effort to remind the Federal Government how they shouldn't differentiate between the two in their efforts to get additional infrastructure funding. (See below image)
Secondly, I am not a member of any union. Nor do I believe that even half of the 24,000+ that signed the petition are union members. Do I support unions? Of course they have their place in society. Like any organization, some lose their vision of their original existence, to prevent corporate abuse of basic human rights, but as a general rule, unions do serve a very vital purpose. We are seeing this very evidently in this referendum, as there are CUPE members being forced by the City of Regina to support City Council's decision, regardless of whether or not they personally support it or not. I personally do not care if CUPE funds RWW $1 or $1 Million, if it helps to protect DEMOCRACY then the more power to them!
As a Certified Management Accountant, I have studied P3's in depth, and there has been much debate over P3's amongst the CMA community for many years. There have been great arguments to both sides, and don't get me wrong, P3's certainly do have a time and a place that make sense. For example, the Stadium would be a prime example where a P3 would be a fantastic opportunity (BTW - It's NOT a P3, no matter what 'some' individuals will lead you to believe). However, a vital resource such as water/wastewater should never, ever be jeopardized by putting it into the hands of private, FOR PROFIT, corporations. Call it privatization, don't call it privatization. The fact is, a private, FOR PROFIT, company WILL operate, finance and maintain it, if the City of Regina gets their wish on September 25. How much profit? The City will not tell us, citing "privacy". However, as per the below image, it would appear 22% is not an unreasonable number. So, in essence, the P3 would have to save us over 22% of the total cost over the 30 years, just to be on even grounds as a traditional DBB model. Where are those savings going to occur? Either increase revenues (utility costs to you and I) or cut expenses (staff, standards, etc.). Add to that the fact that a private company also borrows at a higher interest rate than government, and it makes it even harder to come anywhere close to the cost efficiency of keeping it in public hands.

Finally, in regards to the supposed $79.6M that the City is touting as "savings" realized by a P3, one must keep in mind this is NOT REAL MONEY. This is the assigned dollar value to that of their assumed "risk" that is transferred to the private company. This is a common misconception, and should never be factored in as seriously as the City has. Yes, risk is real and it's nice to transfer that to someone else. But a FOR PROFIT company isn't dumb enough to tell it's investors "hey, check this out, we get to take on more risk, which means you might make less money!!". No investor in their right mind would put their money into that. As for the Federal $58.5M, all I am going to say is there ARE other Federal monies available, as well as potential provincial monies, and all the City of Regina needs to do is put the request into the right department. Many, many other municipalities have done this, and succeeded, and won awards for innovation in design. Why can't we?

Chad A. Novak, CMA
Saskatchewan Taxpayers Advocacy Group
(Mayoral Candidate in the 2012 Municipal Election)

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