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A newspaper investigation has revealed that contracted out foods giant Cara squeezed $2.3 million from the provincial government to get out of a 10-year contract. The story highlights the costs and conflicts on the menu when food services are contracted out. Cara is a big player on campuses and in cafeterias of health care facilities and they are one of the corporations behind the privatization scheme for food services in the Regina-QuAppelle Health Region.

The 10-year contract was to provide food services to Toronto tourist attraction Ontario Place. At the time, Cara officials said they were taking all the financial risk and doing a favour to the people of Ontario by stepping in and absorbing the capital costs. But when the contract proved to be unprofitable, Cara wanted out and triggered a buy-out clause. Ontario Place turned to the provincial government for the secret buy-out.

The complicated story has many twist and turns, including allegations of conflict of interest. The chair of Ontario Places board of directors is a key Tory supporter and runs a company that did business with Cara. An outside consultant examining the bids said another corporation had a better bid, which was overlooked in favour of the better-connected Cara.