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OTTAWA - A new poll by a pro-privatization group doesn’t accurately reflect Canadian views about privatizing public infrastructure and services through public private partnerships, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“Ask a hypothetical question and you’ll get a hypothetical answer. There are an awful lot of ‘ifs’ attached to the poll’s main question,” says CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Their key question is based on an unfounded premise, and reflects the fantasy of what P3s claim to deliver.

Instead, the poll should have asked about the reality of P3s across the country: higher costs, secrecy and reduced accountability, lower-quality services and restricted access to them,” Moist said. “Crunch the numbers and you’ll get a different result.”

The poll, released today by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, insults the intelligence of the Canadian public and Canadian workers by suggesting that they would favour P3s for hospitals and other infrastructure projects, Moist added.

“Everyone agrees we need a major reinvestment in infrastructure and services. But the answer doesn’t lie in more private sector involvement. Let’s give Canadians a real choice,” Moist said.

There is strong support for more public dollars going to rebuild and expand infrastructure and services, and there are innovative ways to publicly finance the services that keep our communities working.”

Research shows that P3s don’t deliver lower costs. Governments can borrow at better rates than even the biggest multinational. The additional costs of requests for proposals, project oversight, legal advice and other P3-related expenses just add to the price tag.

From early P3s in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to the P3 hospitals underway today, economists and auditors have confirmed that the savings don’t add up. Recent analysis of a P3 hospital project in Brampton, Ont., shows it will cost as much as $175 million more than if it were a public project. Costs are spinning out of control in the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver rapid transit P3. Leaked details predict a cost overrun of between $100 and $300 million, and construction hasn’t even started.

“People may respond well to the notion of a ‘partnership,’ but they change their mind when they realize P3s are fundamentally imbalanced in favour of corporations - not communities. Residents of Vancouver, Toronto, Hamilton and Halifax have rejected P3s for water operations. They know that it won’t work for their families. They know that it will cost them more money,” Moist said.

He concluded by pointing to a national Ipsos-Reid poll conducted in April 2004 for CUPE and the Council of Canadians that showed strong support for public investment and delivery of public services.

Visit cupe.ca/www/8/ART40757208390f8 to access background on the April 2004 poll.

CUPE research on infrastructure investment can be downloaded at cupe.ca/updir/Cities_Paper.pdf, and economist Hugh MacKenzie’s analysis is available at www.web.net/ohc, the web site of the Ontario Health Coalition.


Paul Moist, CUPE National President (613) 558-2873
Karin Jordan, CUPE Communications (613) 237-1590 ext. 267 or (613) 222-4436

French media contact :

Robert Bellerose, CUPE Communications (514) 384-9681