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Saskatchewan: The Canadian Union of Public Employees has learned only two school divisions in the province have contacted the ministry of education to express interest in public private partnerships (P3s): the Saskatoon Public School Division and Lloydminster Roman Catholic Separate School Division. The union obtained the information through a freedom of information request.

CUPE Saskatchewan President Tom Graham is heartened by the lack of interest in these P3 schemes, saying it suggests school trustees have done their homework.

There’s so much research and evidence to show P3 schools are not in the best interests of students or taxpayers,” says Graham.

Under the controversial schemes, private companies finance, build and operate schools and lease them back to school divisions on a long-term lease, typically 25 – 35 years.

Indepth studies of “P3 school experiments” in other jurisdictions conclude they make no economic sense. Economist Hugh Mackenzie who studied P3 schools in Alberta, found for every two schools financed as P3s, three could be built using conventional public financing. His 2007 report, Doing the math: Why P3s for Alberta schools don’t add up, details the costs, lack of transparency, loss of community control, and increased financial risk that come with a P3.

 Last month, Education Minister Ken Krawetz admitted the government was having second-thoughts about P3 schools, saying they might not be the best fit for the province. He stated none would be approved for the coming year.

A public opinion poll, conducted by Viewpoints Research last month, found strong opposition (63.7%) to P3 schools in the province. Almost 3 out of four respondents (73%) believed facilities like schools and hospitals should be publicly owned and controlled.

The poll, commissioned by CUPE Saskatchewan, surveyed 800 residents across the province from November 13 – 19. The margin of error is ± 3.4%.

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For more information contact Tom Graham at 229-8171
To view the poll go to: http://cupe.ca/public-private-partnerships/Poll-finds-strong-op