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A privatized hospital tower planned for Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital has hit a financial stumbling block. In late July, directors of the Capital Regional District rejected a staff proposal to borrow $108 million as the region’s contribution towards the development, calling for more information.

According to media reports, the region’s CEO expressed concerns about whether P3s were more cost-effective than traditional construction and operation, and said the P3 model had “complexities” that staff weren’t comfortable with. The 30-year deal privatizes both financing and maintenance of the building.

The BC Health Coalition and the Hospital Employees’ Union/CUPE sent a brief to all municipal councils that make up the CRD and to individual CRD directors. The brief points out that “even though the CRD is being asked to fund 40% of the capital cost of this project, it has not been provided with the business case for the project, or any of the financial details.”

Saanich city councilor and CRD director Judy Brownoff was critical of the commercial confidentiality that surrounds P3s a recent public meeting. “Just imagine having a business partner with a 40 per cent interest and not sharing all the financial information. It’s a transparency issue. I am responsible to my taxpayers. If it’s such a good thing for taxpayers then [the health authority] shouldn’t be afraid to show them the numbers.”

The CRD’s refusal to swallow the privatization scheme is good news in the ongoing fight to keep a new sewage treatment in the region public. CUPE is part of a broad coalition campaigning to stop the Campbell government from forcing the new project to be privatized.