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Incentives for public-private partnerships in budget signals alarming trend, says union

BURNABY—The federal government’s new incentives for public-private partnerships (P3s) announced in yesterday’s budget signal a disturbing trend in the public financing of private, for-profit initiatives, says the BC division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“I found it quite alarming that the budget calls for $1.26 billion over seven years in a national fund for unspecified P3s, $2.1 billion for gateways and border crossings—many of which will be P3 projects—and a $25-million office to foster P3s,” notes CUPE BC president Barry O’Neill.

“It’s clear that the Conservatives are trying to bribe provincial and municipal governments with a promise to top up infrastructure funding costs by 25 per cent if those governments tie the project to a P3”.

O’Neill also noted a Globe and Mail/CTV News poll released yesterday that showed Canadians overwhelmingly want the government to spend on social programs rather than cut taxes in the budget.

“Less than 20 per cent chose tax cuts as their top priority, but that’s the most dominant feature of the budget,” says O’Neill. “There are two bucks in this budget for every dollar of new federal spending. As a result of cancelled childcare agreements and program commitments, for example, BC communities have seen major cuts to childcare services.”

The news for post-secondary education is no better, adds O’Neill. With BC universities and colleges facing budget shortfalls and staff already doing more with less to keep these important institutions running, the federal budget comes up short.

“While the additional federal funding is welcome, it is simply not enough. We know that it will take $4.28 billion for our post-secondary funding to get back to the per-person level it was at 15 years ago,” says O’Neill.



Dan Gawthrop, CUPE Communications: 604.999.6132