Selling Off our Public Interest

Doug Pyper

Dam it all!If you value your democratic voice and our publicly owned natural resources in this beautiful province read on, because both are at very serious risk.
The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) is a non-partisan board that reviews and protects the interests of the BC public with regard to legislated issues such as energy production and pricing etc
The BCUC recently issued a ruling on private river power in our province. Contained within that ruling it completely approved BC Hydro's plan to continue updating our public energy system, making it more efficient, which unquestionably is good for the economy and environment in BC. It also supported BC Hydro's conservation initiatives asking that they proceed even further and provided them with resources to do so.
It unequivocally stated a ‘definitive’ NO’ regarding plans by the Campbell government to purchase any more expensive private river power from independent power producers (IPP'S).  This ruling  included  General Electric owned Plutonic Power's  proposed project in Bute Inlet on the Sunshine Coast, which is estimated would generate a  $20 billion contract needlessly  burdening our public utility (BC Hydro), and consequently paid for by we the people of BC through astronomical future power bills.

BCUC determined that BC Hydro had not demonstrated a need for additional power (in actuality being strong-armed by the Campbell government to purchase it) and that it was not in the public interest to pursue these contracts further.


Spending cuts would kill thousands of jobs and deepen recession

Report calculates economic and social impacts of limiting deficit during recession
In the wake of Tuesday's Throne Speech signaling major cuts in public spending, a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) cautions that cuts will only make the recession worse.

The CCPA's modeling shows the status quo (or underlying) deficit for the current year will likely be between $3.2 and $3.9 billion. If the provincial government then cuts between $1 billion and $2 billion in public spending to reduce the size of that deficit, it will further depress GDP by 0.9% to 1.8%, kill 18,000 to 35,000 jobs, and increase the unemployment rate by up to 1.5%.

That spells a deeper and longer recession, according to Iglika Ivanova, economist and author of September BC Budget Reality Check: Facing the Full Force of the Recession. "These deficits are cyclical. They are a direct result of the recession and do not threaten the long-term health of provincial finances. On the other hand, cutting spending during a serious recession will actually harm the economy."

"The vast majority of policy makers in Canada now recognize the vital role of governments in stimulating the economy to protect jobs and incomes during a recession," says Ivanova. "Yet despite having abandoned its balanced budget legislation earlier this year, BC's government seems determined to run as small a deficit as possible -- even if it has to cut key public programs and services to do so."

"Spending cuts will make it harder for low and middle income British Columbians to weather the recession. BC already has the highest child poverty rate in the country. We cannot afford to push more people into hardship," says Ivanova. "Middle class families already take home lower incomes than their parents' generation, and most entered the recession with record-high debt. Reducing access to services like child care or public libraries will only shift costs onto individual families." continued....

Housing Policies Could Help Prevent AIDS

Research on B.C. needle drug users links homelessness to unsafe sex and persistent addiction.

Tom Sandborn

Needle drug users rated their top worries.
If you shoot illegal narcotics into your veins in British Columbia's capital city, you have plenty to fear. Injection drug use is a driving factor in the spread of infectious blood borne diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C in North America. But your biggest worry, according to a newly published study, is just finding a place to stay where you won't be robbed.

Injection drug users told Victoria researchers they rank security issues such as shelter and physical safety above concerns about catching a deadly illness. And that, say researchers, means we need to rethink how we tackle AIDS prevention.

The findings, recently published in the Harm Reduction Journal, don't surprise Aid Vancouver Island staffer Erin Gibson, who was part of the research team. For a decade now Gibson has worked with AIDS patients and drug users at AIDS Vancouver Island, and she says the desperate conditions of life on the street make it hard to entertain long-term worries about viral infections that might affect you years in the future.

"You don't have time to worry about HIV if your basic survival needs aren't being met," Gibson told the Tyee in phone interview from her Victoria office. "It can be minute to minute out there, day to day. It's only after people have secure housing that I see them reduce their drug use and volunteer in programs. The things they think about then are different."


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