NDP holds emergency debate on Liberal registry privatization plan

November 13, 2015

Today, the NDP Caucus held an emergency debate on the McNeil government’s plan to privatize Nova Scotia’s registries of land, motor vehicles and joint stocks.

NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald says “These registries bring in more revenue on an annual basis than the Lottery and Casino Corporation, well over $100 million, and yet Stephen McNeil and the Liberals are planning to sell them off. This would be the largest corporate handout since the Conservatives privatized Nova Scotia Power. It involves billions of dollars in provincial revenue potentially leaving the province over the next 50 years; it will impact jobs in both the private and public sector; it could result in higher user fees; it could impact housing prices. It only makes sense that members of the Legislature have a chance to thoroughly debate this topic, as soon as possible, before the Liberal government takes us beyond the point of no return in their rush to sell off public assets.”

MacDonald points to the negative impact that selling off assets has had in the past. “The history of privatization is one of short-term political gain for governments and long-term financial pain for everyone else. Obviously companies are interested because they stand to make a profit, a profit that would otherwise stay in Nova Scotia to be invested in needed services like healthcare, education and child welfare. But what we’ve also seen in other provinces is that privatization results in higher fees for land surveyors, realtors and municipalities, along with the general public”

Service Nova Scotia critic Sterling Belliveau says he’s concerned there has been little consultation on this issue. “The NDP Caucus has met with key stakeholders who have told us they have received very little information on this process. Meanwhile, we know a company using Liberal insiders have lobbied the Minister on this issue,” he said.

Fred Hutchison, Executive Director of the Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors agrees, saying: “As a major stakeholder in the registry system, it is very disappointing that the Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors has not been consulted on the issue of privatization or been given any data to support such a venture. Land surveyors have a legislated responsibility to protect the public and we are very concerned about the potential cost to the consumer for our services, access to data as well as the copyright of our work.”