We’ve stopped it before and we can stop it again!
Public documents posted on the government’s online procurement site earlier this year revealed its plan to sell off the profitable Land Titles, Corporate, and Personal Properties Registries to a private company.
Based on the numbers provided in the Request for Expression of Interest (REOI), Land Titles, along with Corporate Registry and Personal Property Registry, had a net profit of approximately $123.6 million in fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.
Over a 35-year period, which is the deal proposed in the REOI, this arrangement could mean a potential loss of revenue to government of as much as $4.3 billion.
Why would a government which claims to be committed to balancing the books be so eager to hand over that kind of money to a private corporation instead of reinvesting it in services that Albertans need?
The problems with the UCP government’s planned proposal go beyond fiscal responsibility. They defy Jason Kenney’s stated commitment to create jobs, given this proposal could end with these jobs going to an Ontario-based company. If the government goes down this path, it could lead to Albertans’ money flowing to Ontario and the elimination of jobs here at home.
The proposal will likely lead to increased costs for Albertans. A recent Parkland Institute analysis of the impacts of privatizing Land Titles found that users in provinces that privatized their systems paid a heavy price. For example, in Ontario prior to privatization, the fee for obtaining a land title was $16 the company hiked to $29.55 after and currently sits at $33.22. Similarly, Manitoba charged $10 to obtain a land title before privatization; the company raised the fee immediately to $16, and it’s now $26.
AUPE members in the Land Titles, Personal Property, and Corporate Registry departments provide vital frontline services to Albertans. During coffee chats with the Deputy and Assistant Deputy Minister(s), facilitators ignored members’ questions about job security.
Members are also worried that a private corporation will be more concerned with profit than protecting land ownership rights in Alberta. This was just one of the concerns that led then-Service Alberta Minister Doug Griffiths to reject the idea seven years ago.
Impacted members have been working hard, including meeting with community stakeholders to discuss how this privatization could negatively affect them. As we did in 2013/2014, we’ve been contacting external organizations to seek their support.
This outreach is succeeding. In a recent letter to Minister Glubish, the Board of Directors of the Alberta Association of Condominium Managers of Alberta (ACMA) wrote, “Your decision to privatize the Alberta Land Titles would not only be a mistake, it would also impact Albertans through reduced income for government services, create unemployment, pose security issues with third party vendors and also increase costs to MANY that use the services daily.”
Former Minister Griffiths also wrote to the Minister recently to urge him to invest in Land Titles, Personal Property, and Corporate Registries rather than privatize it. With privatization, he cautioned, “The government would lose long-term revenue, costs would increase for users, and the need for modernization would be converted into profit. In the end, we found no benefit to the government, taxpayers, or the users, which is why we withdrew our consideration of privatization of Land Titles.”
In 2014, Mr. Griffiths rejected privatization and instead suggested the establishment of a crown corporation, and even referenced the work done in British Columbia. He knew then, just as we know now, that there are viable alternatives to the privatization and contracting out of these services.
Earlier this year, the successful campaign to save services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) from privatization proved that if we work with affected clients and other allies, we can get this government to abandon their agenda.
And we’re going to do the same with Land Titles and Corporate and Personal Property Registries privatization. To succeed, we need your help.
First, if you have a UCP MLA, schedule a meeting with them to talk about the concerns raised above.
Use your address to find out who your MLA is here.
If you do plan to meet your UCP MLA, please first contact our Organizing Department. They can help you prepare for your meeting and offer some tips to ensure you actually get one. They can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com
Second, we strongly urge all members to write to the Minister of Service Alberta to request a meeting to discuss this job-killing, revenue-losing plan.
Honourable Nate Glubish
Phone: (780) 416-2492
If you require further information or have any questions about what your union has been doing to stop this plan, please contact:
AUPE Vice President Kevin Barry, Chair of AUPE’s Anti-Privatization Standing Committee: firstname.lastname@example.org