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The Conservative government’s plan to sell $1.5 billion worth of office buildings and then lease them back through 25-year P3s is going ahead despite major reservations from senior officials.


According to media reports, senior government warned that the plan could cost taxpayers $600 million if it flops, and called for a full risk analysis. Yet the Department of Public Works went ahead, arguing that calling for bids was the best way to analyze the deal’s pros and cons.

One source told the Globe and Mail the fear is that “potential savings have been overstated and the potential risks ignored.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is demanding the sale of nine key buildings be called off, arguing that rent payments over the life of the leases will be double the sale price.

PSAC’s arguments about the secrecy surrounding the selloff resonated with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates. The committee has asked for a moratorium on the sale until it has seen impact studies and other relevant information.

PSAC is also calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to turn the deal over to the Auditor General of Canada to review the selloff and report publicly on her findings.