March 25, 2015
Halifax – Premier McNeil’s decision to turn over tourism Nova Scotia to the private sector is yet another mistake that Nova Scotians will come to regret.
The Ivany Commission confirmed that traditional industries such as tourism will continue to be vital for Nova Scotia’s rural economy and is one of the largest and fastest-growing economic sectors in the world, and the leading source of service exports in Nova Scotia. Today the Government’s own press release said “Nova Scotia is one of the most compelling brands in the country”.
Joan Jessome, President of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU) asks, “Why would the Government want to hand control over such a vital economic generator to an arm’s length agency?”
There are a lot of questions as to what this will mean for operators. “Who will be responsible for inspections?” Jessome asks. “Who will be responsible for maintaining and protecting the brand that has taken 100’s of years to develop? This brand belongs to all Nova Scotians and shouldn’t be ceded to a non-elected board.”
“What government needed to do was to strengthen this important public service, rather than off-load it to private interests,” says Jessome. “Tourism should remain a public service so we have consistent and high quality staff with well-paying jobs working in all corners of our province.”
This announcement comes on the heels of cuts to staff positions in seven parks and the closures of two Visitor Information Centres in Pictou and Digby. It is a continuation of the Liberal government’s long term agenda to drastically cut and privatize public services. The cuts will impact every community, driving more people out of rural communities, and eventually, the province.
“Many families and communities are still reeling from these cuts to parks and VICs and will be very concerned about what this announcement will mean to them,” says Jessome. “As I’ve said, tourism services should remain public; but at the very least, the workers should be transferred to their new employer with their rights, wages, and benefits intact on a go-forward basis.” The union is hoping the legislation will contain these protections.
The NSGEU represents people with decades of experience in tourism who work in communities across the province, the vast majority of them in Visitor Information Centres. There are over a hundred members who will be impacted in the privatization of this service.