Public banking on the rise

In October, the governor of California signed the Public Banking Act into law. This legislation allows local governments to create public banks that could help finance their infrastructure at much lower costs than private banks. There are only two public banks in North America, the Bank of North Dakota and Alberta’s ATB Financial. The public banking model is gaining attention as an alternative to failed public-private partnership (P3) initiatives that finance infrastructure at a premium compared to public options. With the climate crisis stressing already aging infrastructure, public banks may be exactly what we need to finance a green municipal transition.

P3 reversal in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia government recently reversed its plan to build two new health centres in Cape Breton through P3s, instead opting for public funding, maintenance, and operations. One of the key advantages of this model is the lower cost of public sector borrowing. Advocates point out that project quality tends to be higher as well, since the private corporations involved aren’t held responsible for long term costs that arise from low quality, and instead have incentives to maximize profits by cutting corners. CUPE Nova Scotia has called on the provincial government to show leadership by cancelling P3 plans for the QEII hospital project in Halifax.

Beyond NAFTA 2.0

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives teamed up with the Institute for Policy Studies and the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung–NYC to write about what workers, farmers, environmentalists, and other community advocates would like to see changed in trade and investment treaties. The document, Beyond NAFTA 2.0, is meant to spur discussion about how trade deals have evolved far beyond issues affecting trade and impact domestic policy-making in broad and unexpected ways. The current web of international treaties acts as an obstacle to workers’ rights and global action on climate change. These treaties often allow investors to sue nations for potential violations. It’s time for a different model of trade agreements that puts people and the planet first.