CUPE 21 told the City of Regina Executive Council that full public disclosure and discussion about the wastewater treatment plant is imperative. CUPE 21 President Tim Anderson presented a short brief at the meeting this afternoon.
“We urge you to postpone your decision and hold public meetings on this issue immediately,” Anderson told the Committee. “Water and wastewater is integral to our lives and the public overwhelmingly wants water services to be delivered publicly.”
Anderson advised the executive council that there is strong evidence that P3s cost more than traditional ways of funding public infrastructure. He cited the example of the City of Moncton that is paying 10% yearly interest rates on its lease terms for its water treatment plant. Private financing in this case means that Moncton is paying an extra $14.4 million in debt over 20 years on a $23 million capitol project.
Another factor that makes privatization of water and wastewater a bad idea is that the public sector retains all risks when a P3 operator fails or backs out of a project because profits aren’t high enough. The British Association of Chartered Certified Accountants reviewed the global experience of P3s and concluded that “value for money is difficult to establish convincingly, owing to the higher costs associated with private finance and the high premium payable for risk factor.”
CUPE 21 represents about 1,300 permanent and casual employees of the City of Regina who provide important front line services in the areas of public works, parks and recreation, water and wastewater and community services. The union found out on February 8 that the City plans to privatize the new wastewater treatment plant.