Pro-P3 poll sidesteps realities of privatization



    OTTAWA, Nov. 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The latest poll from a pro-privatization
lobby group shows the false promises of public-private partnerships unravel
when Canadians experience the reality of these schemes.
    "The Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships paints a very rosy
picture with its P3 questions, creating a scenario where respondents might
believe they are the magic bullet for our infrastructure problems. Their 'what
if' approach sidesteps the reality that P3s waste public dollars. In BC, the
province that's experimented most with P3s, citizens have experienced higher
costs, delays, and lower quality, along with compromised accountability and
transparency," says CUPE National President Paul Moist.
    Those experiences are reflected in the CCPPP's own poll, which shows
support for P3s is lowest and continues to decline in British Columbia.
Support is also weaker than the national average in Ontario, where the cost
overrun for a series of privatized P3 hospitals is approaching $1 billion.
    "In BC, projects like the Canada Line have revealed the true colours of
P3s. The Canada Line costs have risen nearly $500 million, and the public
sector holds the bag for meeting ridership targets. Meanwhile other projects
that have stayed public, like the water systems in Vancouver and Whistler, are
on-time and under budget," says Moist.
    Other provinces are just venturing into major P3s. Québec citizens have
recently had trouble scrutinizing the province's first major P3 deal, for a
stretch of Highway 25. The contract was released with key details blacked out.
    "These deals are structured to hide the fact that P3s are bad public
policy. Yet the federal Conservatives are in lockstep with the CCPPP,
promoting privatization through their new 'Building Canada' infrastructure
plan," adds Moist. "The plan contains very little new cash after you cut
through the spin. What's new are the conditions forcing municipalities to
consider privatizing water, sewage, transportation and other vital community
services."
    The Conservatives are also planning a new federal agency dedicated to
promoting privatization, which will also assess P3 projects. But objective
assessments will be difficult, given the office's inherent conflict of
interest. The Federal Accountability Act excluded contracts and P3s from
increased accountability and transparency provisions, making citizen oversight
difficult.
    The poll does confirm Canadians' consistent and growing concern about the
state of the country's infrastructure. The most recent breakdown of the
infrastructure deficit, released last week by the Federation of Canadian
Municipalities, highlights the urgency.
    "Our figures show funding to municipalities is falling short by as much
as $7 billion a year. This isn't whining. It's the very real consequence of
nearly 20 years of federal and provincial offloading and cuts. The solution is
straightforward. We need increased long-term funding to municipalities -
without privatization strings attached. Evidence shows publicly-funded and
delivered infrastructure and services provide better value for money," said
Moist.

    Visit cupe.ca/economics for CUPE's analysis on municipal transfers and
the Building Canada fund, and cupe.ca/privatization for background on the
problems with P3s.




For further information:

For further information: Paul Moist, CUPE National President, (613)
558-2873; Karin Jordan, CUPE Communications, (613) 222-4436; Claude Généreux,
National Secretary-Treasurer, (porte-parole francophone), (514) 884-5074

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