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We learned in The Gazette last Wednesday (New children’s hospital delayed again) that children and staff will be stuck for two more years in cramped quarters at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Health Minister Philippe Couillard has delayed construction of new facilities at Glen Yard to allow lengthy and costly negotiations for privatization through a public-private partnership (P3).

Unfortunately, this slow start is probably just a glimpse of the future. There are numerous nightmarish cases just next door in Ontario.

In Brampton, costs for a privatized P3 hospital spiralled from $350 million to a $900 million. In North Bay, another will cost taxpayers $160 million more than if publicly built  due to higher interest rates, lawyers, consultants, middlemen, etc. Or take the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, P3 planned at $95 million and 284 beds, but then delivered over two years late (and incomplete when opened) for $146 million with only 188 beds.

Back to Glen Yard, walk a few kilometers east to admire the Îlot Voyageur P3 construction site, where the Université du Québec à Montréal has squandered $200 million. You might then start thinking: apart from making public money disappear what is the P3 magic?

Paul Moist, national president, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).