OTTAWA – The Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships wrapped up its annual conference in Toronto this week after hearing Bank of Canada governor David Dodge endorse P3s for public infrastructure in the face of evidence that the deals harm the public sector and the financial bottom line.
Dodge told CCPPP delegates that P3s can fund and manage public infrastructure more efficiently than the public sector. Ironically, as a former deputy minister of finance in the early 1990s, he helped lay the groundwork for the public infrastructure deficit that Canadians are living with today.
“It was a disturbing message for our members,” said Canadian Union of Public Employees National President Paul Moist, who has written to Dodge to point out the flaws in his speech to the CCPPP. “It should also be disturbing for all Canadians who care about how their taxes are spent and about the quality of public services.
“The obsession with eliminating the deficit at the federal level was spearheaded by Dodge while he was deputy minister,” Moist added. “There is a direct line from the deferred public infrastructure spending approach of the Liberals in the 1990s to the current infrastructure deficit.” So it comes as no surprise that Dodge is calling on the private sector to fill the funding gap through P3s.
In his letter to Dodge, Moist shows that there are big problems with the bank governor’s assertions about P3 opportunity and public infrastructure. Private financing, operation and maintenance of infrastructure have profit as a primary motive. This means P3s need to first extract a profit from public infrastructure projects. The result is that public money, which should be reinvested in public infrastructure, lines the pockets of private companies and their shareholders.
“P3s are not the solution to the public infrastructure deficit. What will solve the crisis is a long-term, stable funding commitment to public infrastructure, assets and services,” says Moist in the letter. “The different levels of government in Canada have more than enough in projected surpluses to reduce and eliminate the public infrastructure deficit within a generation,” Moist wrote.
P3s also reduce the transparency of infrastructure contracts and put public assets under a veil of secrecy. This is detrimental to the public’s fundamental right to know how the government is acting on their behalf.
Paul Moist, National President, cell (613) 558 2873; Claude Genereux, National Secretary-Treasurer, cell (613) 794 8395; David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878 1431