Selling Land Titles, Corporate, Personal Property registries senseless
EDMONTON – The Government of Alberta is moving ahead with another plan to hand over important public services to its corporate friends even though it will put a dent in provincial revenue.
“The government has just told us it is looking at handing over the Land Titles, Corporate and Personal Property registries to private, for-profit operators,” says Kevin Barry, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE), which represents more than 90,000 workers, including 130 employed in the registries.
“In its documents for potential buyers, the government says the registries earned nearly $124 million in 2020 and predicts that revenue will increase for the next five years. Just when Alberta needs revenue more than ever, it is madness to get rid of a proven money maker.”
The last time the Alberta government looked at privatization of the Land Titles registry in 2013, it was opposed by the Alberta Land Surveyors’ Association, the Real Estate Council of Alberta, the Alberta Real Estate Association, the Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association and the Law Society of Alberta. The Wildrose and NDP both opposed privatization and the PC government dropped the plan.
“Handing these registries to corporations is clearly bad for businesses who value the accuracy and security of the way work is done now,” he says. “It is bad for all Albertans who use these services and who value their property. It will inevitably lead to higher fees and a reduction in the quality of service.”
Registry fees for many transactions in Alberta, including liens, condo bylaw changes and power of attorney documents are sometimes free and often as low as $10. Similar work at the privatized service in Manitoba often cost $109 or more. Higher fees are bad for business and bad for consumers.
“The UCP is following its usual approach pursuing an ideological plan based on politics not evidence, engaging in little or no consultation and hoping that Albertans don’t notice,” says Barry, who is chair of AUPE’s anti-privatization committee. The government has been lobbied aggressively by Premier Jason Kenney’s former chief of staff Nick Koolsbergen.
“They did this with coal mining, with parks, with front-line health care services and are now doing it with vital government services. Left to their own devices, they’d leave Albertans with nothing,” he says. “Fortunately, Albertans have woken up and are fighting back. Those battles are by no means over yet, but the government should be afraid. Albertans don’t like shady deals done in back rooms with friends at their expense.”
Kevin Barry is available for interviews.
Please contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, 403-831-4394 or email@example.com.