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Ottawa – Stephen Harper’s Conservative Government is putting on a road show this summer, with a series of meetings and negotiations about its “Building Canada” plan, announced in the spring budget. This $33 billion fund doesn’t actually include any additional money, but is just a repackaging of currently planned infrastructure funding with a new caveat: municipalities and other proponents will now have to fully consider public-private partnerships (P3s) as a condition for receiving funding.

“The need to demonstrate that they have “fully considered” the P3 option, even when public delivery is known to be more cost efficient and accountable, is extremely unreasonable,” stated CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Simply preparing a P3 proposal can be very expensive for most municipalities, and prohibitively expensive for smaller municipalities.”

“Under no circumstances should the federal government impose P3s, or an obligation to consider P3s, on municipal or other governments as a condition of receiving infrastructure or other funding,” he continued. “Local governments are accountable to their taxpayers for the services they provide and understand their community needs and resources. They shouldn’t be forced to risk public funds to comply with the ideological bias and private interests of upper levels of government”

Years of cutbacks and underfunding have created an infrastructure deficit in Canada estimated at $100 billion and growing by at least $2 billion a year. The federal emphasis on P3s is responding to the push by large corporations and investment banks to get a much larger piece of the highly lucrative P3 market.

“An actual investment in infrastructure would be welcome. The country is desperate for it,” said Moist. “But the Building Canada fund pushes municipalities into a failed model for infrastructure investment.”

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For more information: Paul Moist, CUPE national president, 613-558-2873 (cell); Audra Williams, CUPE communications, 902-225-2876 (cell)