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David Jacks | CUPE Communications

In the fall of 2013, the Manitoba NDP government released the regulations that govern the province’s new Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act. This Act is a first for Canada, recognizing the serious concerns over accountability that P3s represent.

Already the NDP opposition in Saskatchewan has attempted to table similar legislation, calling for openness and transparency for all P3 projects entered into within the province.

When CUPE published “Asking the Right Questions: A Guide for Municipalities Considering P3s” in September of 2012, concerns were raised regarding the perceived benefits to cities and towns who consider P3s for their infrastructure projects.

The perceived benefits of reduced cost, higher service quality, and better value for dollar were all debunked throughout CUPE’s study.

In fact, the actual outcomes of these projects undermine these claims even further.

In Winnipeg, construction of the South District Police Station was brought back in-house after the city discovered that it would cost taxpayers less than the original P3 project, while other P3s are being heavily scrutinized for major cost-overruns of millions of dollars.

These types of issues, along with concentrated lobbying efforts from CUPE and the Manitoba Federation of Labour, have resulted in the provincial government of Manitoba taking action to address P3 projects. Legislation and regulations will require the proposed P3 to be subject to public sector comparators (meaning that the P3 must prove that it will be better value for the taxpayer), hold public consultations, and will be held to account every step of the way through strict reporting requirements.

This new legislation is an excellent way forward in ensuring that the public understands that P3s aren’t what they bargained for, and will hopefully curtail future P3s in Manitoba.