By Adam D’Andrea
Local families were invited to enjoy an afternoon of free skating on Family Day, while being encouraged to learn more about the privatization of public services.
The public skate at the Libro Centre was hosted by We Own It, an international organization dedicated to maintaining public services and preventing them from going private. The local group is one of 30 in Ontario, with organizer Rob Wilson saying the non-partisan movement is looking to have privatization removed from the agenda during the 2018 Ontario general election.
“Our parents and grandparents built that public sector and now we see it slowly getting chipped away. We want it to stay in public hands,” said Wilson. “It’s just going to go to precarious work. If it’s going to get privatized you know it’s only for profit. Pay is going to go down for those jobs, pay is going to go up for the executives and benefits are going to go.”
Wilson pointed to a number of local examples of privatization including the Gordie Howe International Bridge, the South West Detention Centre and Huron Lodge. He also mentioned the new initiative to sell beer and liquor in grocery stores as opposed to solely through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. According to Wilson, the LCBO creates $2-3 billion in revenue each year.
“That’s $2-3 billion per year that goes back into the province to pay for roads, buildings, bridges and all the services we need as a province to strive,” Wilson said. “If we sell that off to Loblaws for a quick dollar, like Kathleen Wynne is doing with Hydro One, we’re just going to lose out.”
Wilson was pleased with the afternoon’s turnout and was certain they’d have to turn away at least a few people to keep crowds in accordance with the rink’s 175-skater capacity. There were a few local politicians in attendance such as Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak.
“Whether it’s Service Ontario centers, our hydro system, our education or health care system, these are vital public services that provide a tremendous amount of value at good taxpayer costs,” said Natyshak. “It’s something we need to protect because once it’s gone, once we eliminate those public services from communities, it’s very hard to get them back out of the private realm.”
While he was there to support the We Own It campaign, Natyshak said the event was also a good chance to have some fun and skate with members of the community.
“It’s a great opportunity to connect on Family Day, hear some concerns, see some smiles and get a little bit of exercise too. We all know we could use that,” said Natyshak, laughing.
DiCarlo said he takes privatization issues seriously because of his time as a public servant. Being in higher levels of administration at the University of Windsor taught him that privatized services simply cost more money, he said.
“It just doesn’t make any sense. You get better service through public workers and it’s something we have to maintain,” said DiCarlo. “For your average person on the street, you will get the most value for your money when it comes to public services.”
For more information about the international We Own It campaign, visit www.weownit.ca.