CUPE Nova Scotia president Danny Cavanagh, says testimony from senior Department of Education officials to an all-party legislative committee on P3 schools should sound the alarm for any future public-private-partnerships in Nova Scotia.
Cavanagh says, “It is simply astounding that no one in government can actually answer even the most basic questions about a deal that is costing Nova Scotia taxpayers over $800 million. We don’t know how much money the private partner is making and, to add insult to injury, we don’t even have access to the contracts that were signed.”
Says Cavanagh, “The very same people who negotiated those deals now say they don’t have access to them and therefore are unable to monitor the performance of the private partners.
“Nova Scotians should be deeply concerned about a model of financing public services that appears to have zero transparency and zero accountability to taxpayers and citizens,” he says.
In his audit of the P3 school contracts which was released last month, the province’s Auditor-General stated, “”In this matter, the Department of Education is failing its duty to taxpayers, as well as to large numbers of the very students it purports to serve.”
Cavanagh says, “I think we’ve reached the point in this province, where if any government - whether municipal or provincial - tried to pursue a P3, they would be doing so at their peril.”
He says while P3s were not mentioned specifically in the provincial Speech from the Throne, CUPE is hopeful there will be more details in the upcoming provincial budget on how public services get financed.