Representatives from CUPE Quebec’s Conseil provincial du secteur du transport terrestre (CPSTT) are attending today’s meeting of the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, where the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s new light rail transit (LRT) project is on the agenda.

Barely recovered from the MUHC and Charbonneau Commission scandals, Philippe Couillard’s government is in the process of launching the largest public-private partnership (P3) in Quebec history, worth $5.5 billion.

“It’d be nice if we could learn from our mistakes,” said Daniel Leroux, president of the CPSTT, representing CUPE transit workers across the province. “P3 infrastructure costs more, quality takes a hit, and opens the door to collusion and corruption.”

Several similar P3 megaprojects suffered major cost overruns, with delays and other significant problems. The MUHC and CHUM P3 hospitals, the Îlot Voyageur, and provincial roadside rest area projects are prime examples. Tolls on another major P3, the Highway 30 bridge, have risen 60 per cent since the bridge opened in 2012.

The Charbonneau Commission made it clear that using internal expertise is the best defence against collusion and corruption, but the government continues to put the management of public services in private hands.

“Of course we want to improve and update Greater Montreal’s public transit system to an electric one – just not at any price,” said CUPE Quebec representative Jean‑Guy Simard.

 “The government should be using existing resources like the Greater Montreal transit authorities and the provincial ministry of transport to deliver this important project for Montrealers,” said Simard.