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In October, Quebec Health Minister Philippe Couillard officially announced that the Liberals are providing $21 million to renovate the Saint-Charles long-term care centre in Quebec City.

This marks the successful end to a saga that, for the centre’s residents, began nearly 10 years ago. Patients at the Résidence Saint-Charles have been waiting for a new facility since 1995. Despite repeated announcements and promises, the deal was constantly postponed and delayed. Then, in 2004, just when construction was to begin, the government asked the administration to examine whether it would be preferable to undertake the project as a P3.

Prior to the election of Premier Jean Charest in 2003, there was virtually no mention of P3s in Quebec. That changed when the Liberals came to power. P3s have become the Charest mantra. In June 2004, the government even created an agency to promote them.

To meet the government’s requirements, the Saint-Charles board ordered an independent study comparing the P3 vs. public approach. The study concluded that a P3 would cost up to 34 per cent more. Over 25 years, the P3 would cost $110,000 more per bed.

In January 2005, CUPE 3763, which represents workers at the centre, held a joint news conference with the Quebec Federation of Labour to publicize the study’s results. A few weeks later, at a public meeting, the centre’s board rejected the P3 approach. Let’s hope last month’s funding announcement hammers the final nail in this P3’s coffin.