Thursday, January 6, 2011

Quebec community groups create coalition to oppose privatization and support public services

Regional coalition opposes the commercialization of the common good.

Public Values
January 4, 2011

Notre-Dame-des-Anges Québec, QC: Last September, 43 groups were invited to gather by the Regroupement d'éducation populaire en action communautaire de Québec et Chaudière-Appalaches, a local grouping of organizations in this rural community east of Montreal that share a progressive social vision and that practice independent popular education. The 43 groups recently met, uniting members of students' associations, women's groups, community organizations, unions, and rights advocacy groups against tax hikes and the privatization of public services. In response to Quebec Minister of Finance Raymond Bachand's 2010 budget, the meeting resulted in the formation of the Coalition de Québec et Chaudière-Appalaches.

The members of the Coalition also want to add their voices to an important movement that started in Quebec about a year ago: opposition to the commercialization of the common good. This movement has demonstrated that it is possible to make the government change its mind, as evidenced last September by the government's withdrawal of its proposal to charge user fees for health care services.

The declaration signed by the Coalition's 43 members states that "since the 1990s, Quebec's provincial government and the federal government in Ottawa have applied the same neo-liberal formulas: cuts to public services and social programs, public-private partnerships (PPP), deregulation, and minimization of State responsibilities." The declaration affirms that "public management is therefore subjected to the requirements of special interests, which in turn privatize profits and socialize deficits." According to Marie-Ève Duchesne, spokesperson for the Coalition, "the State is disengaging itself more and more, forcing community groups to suffer negative consequences and poverty, and it is directly attacking women who will have to compensate for the quiet destruction of our public services. That's unacceptable!"

There are alternatives!

According the Coalition's members, the current situation is not inevitable; it is society's choice. "A strong State with economic leverage is an asset for the whole of the population. Our public services and social programs are tremendous tools for the redistribution of wealth that favour a better quality of life. When we are compared with elsewhere, no one talks about that," declares Ann Gingras, another Coalition spokesperson.

The new regional coalition is therefore demanding of the Charest government adequate financing of public services and social programs. It is proposing other options that would distribute the costs fairly and not only among the poorest citizens and the middle class, groups that have been paying more than their fair share for years. Establishing a more progressive taxation system, finding a balance between contributions from individuals and from businesses, and increasing fees for the exploration of natural resources are some examples of the Coalition's suggestions.

The Coalition de Québec et Chaudières-Appalaches, opposed to privatization and to the taxation of public services, adds its voice to those who fight against poverty and the destruction of Quebec's social net. Moreover, the Coalition will be present during the next few months to broadcast alternative information and to participate in major events coming up in 2011.

Links and sources
La région s'organise contre le budget Bachand

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