Today the Manitoba Government announced the hiring of a private consulting firm, KPMG, to pursue the government’s plan to build four new schools in Manitoba under a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model, despite growing concern nation-wide that P3 schools end up costing more.
“Premier Pallister first announced the new P3 schools to the Canadian Council on Public Private Partnerships, P3 lobbyists,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “He did not announce the new schools to parents, school staff, or school divisions, which is quite telling of his agenda.”
The P3 school model has raised serious concerns across Canada, including in Nova Scotia which recently bought back P3 schools because it would be cheaper.
“Pallister isn’t telling the whole story on P3 schools,” said Egan. “And now he is spending taxpayer dollars on a consultant to push forward with his P3 agenda, rather than having an honest discussion on whether or not P3s should even be used.”
The provincial government recently announced the building of two new schools in Winkler and Niverville slated to open by 2019, to be financed and built traditionally.
In preparation for opening the doors to P3s in Manitoba, Premier Pallister also rescinded the province’s Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act. This legislation would ensure public consultation and cost comparators prior to considering P3 agreements. “The government has already committed to the P3 model, trashing public accountability, and is handing the planning over to a private consultant,” said Egan. “Pallister has no interest in building schools publicly, and entering into this private sector scheme will hurt our schools in the long run.”
In June, CUPE Local 737, representing school support workers in Brandon, hosted a public town hall to discuss concerns with the P3 model.