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CUPE Alberta president Dennis Mol congratulated the provincial government today for moving forward with new school construction; but urged the reconsideration of further P3 projects.

New high schools in Calgary, Edmonton, Sherwood Park and Spruce Grove are essential for meeting the critical need for public infrastructure in Alberta,” said Dennis Mol, CUPE Alberta President.  “Our students need these spaces, and our workers need these jobs.  Good on them for moving forward.”

This portion of the Alberta Schools Alternative Procurement Phase 2 (ASAP II) is being completed by way of the traditional design-build bundle, which many studies have shown to be the most efficient and cost-effective method of infrastructure construction.

Industry reports on Public-Private Partnerships (P3s), such as a recent paper by the Merit Contractors Association and the Alberta Construction Association, say P3s cost more and can lead to specialization issues in the construction industry, Mol said.

Mol added that he was disappointed that the ASAP II project also included 10 P3-built elementary and middle schools – and urged the Government to reconsider this decision.

Most Alberta families already know that over the long-term, buying the house is better than renting the house,” Mol said.  “If traditional methods of building are good enough for high schools, it should be good enough for all schools.

The elementary and middle schools should be constructed for the best interests of Alberta taxpayers.”

The construction discussion paper, “Future Directions for Public-Private Partnerships in Alberta’s Construction Industry,” warns that P3s could result in Government spending more money on the projects than necessary, as well as contributing to industry becoming too dependent on providing specialized services to the provincial Government.

Mol noted the frequent cases of P3 consortiums failing to find financing for projects, going back to the Macquarie Group’s failure to find enough capital on the Port Mann bridge expansion project in BC, due to the global credit crunch. 

There are frequent examples of P3 failures and abandonment across Canada,” Mol said. “Let’s get these projects right the first time, so Albertans don’t pay more than is needed.  The public deserves that.