Armed with fresh evidence from Nova Scotia’s auditor general, New Brunswick school board workers continue to fight two P3 schools.
At a recent rally, CUPE 824 and CUPE 1253 members burned fake money outside a Moncton school under construction to drive home their message: privatizing schools sends public funds up in smoke. The P3 also threatens community-supporting jobs.
“We want schools that are owned by the taxpayers of New Brunswick, not schools that are owned by multinational corporations and are simply leased back over 30 years,” said CUPE New Brunswick president Danny Legere.
Mismanaged P3 school contracts are nothing new. When the Conservative government announced it was scrapping future P3 school plans in 2000, then-finance minister Neil Leblanc noted that the cost of “originally generous” P3 contracts rose by a further $32 million after the contracts had been signed.
The New Brunswick government is also ignoring evidence in its own back yard. The 1998 provincial auditor’s report on Moncton’s Evergreen Park P3 school found it cost nearly $900,000 more than if it had been publicly financed and owned.
The provincial auditor suggested the government had overestimated some costs to make the P3 seem more attractive than it actually was. This time around, Premier Shawn Graham is saying privatizing the schools will save “approximately $12 million,” though the numbers to back this claim have not been made public.