AFL calls P3 schools "a recipe for a boondoggle"



    EDMONTON, June 14 /CNW/ - The Alberta Federation of Labour today strongly
criticized the provincial government's decision to use so-called "P3"
financing to build new schools in Edmonton and Calgary. AFL President Gil
McGowan said the decision is a serious mistake - one which will cost the
Alberta public and taxpayers dearly.
    "Look at the record of P3s in other jurisdictions. Wherever they've been
tried - in the British health care system, in schools in the Maritime
provinces, or in infrastructure projects in Ontario - they've resulted in
increased costs and decreased services. The simple fact of the matter is that
P3s simply can't deliver the goods."
    McGowan dismisses the government's argument that P3s, where the private
sector build facilities and then lease them back to the government, offer a
way to build public infrastructure without creating public debt. "That's
simply the worst kind of accounting trickery. If you are locked into a
thirty-year lease that obliges to pay a million bucks a year for a school,
that is a debt. You can call it something else if you want to - it may serve a
political purpose by helping to sell a bad idea to the public - but it's still
a debt."
    McGowan went on to argue that P3 projects don't provide the transparency
and accountability of traditional public infrastructure financing:
"Ordinarily, if the construction of a public facility has serious cost
overruns, or there are serious problems with the construction, the public,
media and politicians have ways of finding out the nature of the problem. They
can use tools like Freedom of Information requests to find out what went
wrong. With P3 projects, however, much of the important information is
private, and we have no way of figuring out what actually happened. This is a
recipe for a boondoggle."
    "P3 financing is a gimmick", concluded McGowan, "a very expensive
financial shell game. They're great for investment bankers and contractors,
but they're a disaster for the public and the taxpayer. This is not the way we
should be building our public schools."





For further information:

For further information: Gil McGowan, President, Cell: (780) 218-9888

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Alberta Federation of Labour

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