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Nova Sco­tia seeks pri­vate sec­tor in­put on run­ning ser­vice reg­istries

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS• - BY ME­LANIE PAT­TEN HAL­I­FAX

The Nova Sco­tia gov­ern­ment is look­ing at off-load­ing the costs of up­grad­ing its reg­istry ser­vices for mo­tor ve­hi­cles, land and busi­nesses by part­ner­ing with the pri­vate sec­tor.

A call will be put out later this sum­mer for in­put from com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in run­ning the public reg­istries and mod­ern­iz­ing the as­so­ci­ated tech­nol­ogy.

“If we want to po­si­tion our­selves fi­nan­cially so that we can con­tinue to in­vest in those core ser­vices that Nova Sco­tians have told us are im­por­tant to them — health care and ed­u­ca­tion — these are the types of things that we have to con­sider,” Ser­vice Nova Sco­tia Min­is­ter Mark Furey said Tues­day.

The Reg­istry of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles, the Nova Sco­tia Land Reg­istry and the Reg­istry of Joint Stock Com­pa­nies are due for up­grades worth about $30 mil­lion in to­tal. The ma­jor­ity of that cost is needed to over­haul the Reg­istry of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles.

The reg­istries earn about $120 mil­lion an­nu­ally and cost a frac­tion of that to run — be­tween $30 mil­lion and $35 mil­lion a year. But Furey said the gov­ern­ment could avoid fu­ture cap­i­tal costs and re­di­rect that money else­where if the pri­vate sec­tor took over.

He said other prov­inces, in­clud­ing On­tario, Man­i­toba and Saskatchewan, have sim­i­lar part­ner­ships.

If ap­proved in Nova Sco­tia, the com­pa­nies would pro­vide reg­istry ser­vices while the gov­ern­ment would be re­spon­si­ble for reg­u­la­tion, set­ting fees and main­tain­ing own­er­ship of the data. The com­pa­nies would col­lect user fees and pay some sort of roy­alty to the gov­ern­ment.

Furey was adamant the reg­istries would not be pri­va­tized like Nova Sco­tia Power, but the head of the province’s largest public sec­tor union said Nova Sco­tians should be wary.

Joan Jessome, pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia Gov­ern­ment and Gen­eral Em­ploy­ees Union, said taxpayers ex­pect the gov­ern­ment to in­vest in public ser­vices and re­main ac­count­able.

“This gov­ern­ment should just put a ’for sale’ sign on the whole province,” she said in an in­ter­view. “When you put another player into the mix — you can call him what­ever you want to call him — it’s still pri­va­tiz­ing a public ser­vice.”

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