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A new report finds the BC government has stacked the deck in favour of expensive and unaccountable P3s.

The study calls into question how P3 deals are awarded and evaluated. It comes as the federal government prepares to cut the ribbon on a federal P3 agency that could spread the same faulty practices across the country.

CUPE BC commissioned respected forensic accountant Ron Parks to unearth the truth behind the province’s pro-privatization push, being driven and overseen by Partnerships BC.

Parks and co-author Rosanne Terhart combed through documents CUPE obtained over two years under Freedom of Information provisions. The accountants scrutinized four P3 projects, and conclude they cost more than public projects – 130 per cent more in the case of a hospital project

The process for assessing P3s is biased against the public sector, according to the study. This finding has major implications in Nova Scotia, where the province has contracted Partnerships BC to evaluate 10 P3 projects. It’s also a wake-up call for Saskatchewan, which is establishing its own P3 agency.

The report echoes the Ontario auditor general’s recently-published concerns that the methodology used to procure, evaluate and report the benefit of P3 projects is biased in favour of privatization.

Even after a lengthy FOI campaign, Parks and Terhart say the public lacks the solid information needed to be confident their interests are protected in P3 project. Much of the information CUPE requested was denied. The authors say the high level of secrecy is part of a “general lack of transparency and public accountability.”

The report should be required reading for federal opposition parties and the Auditor General of Canada, as Stephen Harper continues his government’s unflinching promotion of P3s, despite the global financial meltdown that has made P3s even more risky and expensive.