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The House of Commons operations committee is holding hearings on the effectiveness of public private partnerships to build infrastructure. The Globe and Mail was one of the only papers to cover these important hearings. I responded to their article outlining some of CUPE’s perspectives on this national debate. 

Re: The hidden price of public-private partnerships

Dear Editor,

Thanks to Barrie McKenna for his article on the House of Commons committee hearings on public-private partnerships. It provides for much needed discussion on how we fund Canada’s infrastructure.

With the dangers of P3s becoming more exposed, many municipalities are saying no to these risky deals. Case after case illustrates that P3s can lead to higher long term cost for taxpayers, a loss of control of public assets, and greatly diminished public accountability. CUPE’s new report “Asking the right questions: A guide for municipal officials considering P3s” outlines the major issues associated with P3s.

While municipalities are having thoughtful discussions about the best way forward on infrastructure spending, the federal government seems content with their blind commitment to P3s.

These hearings could provide an important venue for a fulsome examination of the true costs and benefits of P3 projects. But the “expert” witnesses the committee has called are mostly pro-P3 industry representatives who will continue to parrot the same old lines about how great and low risk P3s are.

Many important voices are missing - academics, municipal governments and public sector workers, like CUPE members who can offer first hand information about how services are impacted by P3s.

I hope that the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates will take its mandate to review the effectiveness of P3s seriously, and hear from some dissenting voices for a thoughtful and balanced examination of this important national public policy issue.

With a $123 billion municipal infrastructure deficit in this country, we need government to be pursuing a range of public financing options – not just pinning all spending to an ideological drive to hand over our public infrastructure and services to for-profit corporations.

Yours Truly,

Paul Moist
National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees

  • Read the Globe and mail article here