“Reversing the decision to construct two new health centres in Cape Breton through public-private partnerships (P3s) was the right one,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen. “The traditional model that includes public funding, maintenance and operations is in the best interest of Nova Scotians.”

At a panel discussion held in Halifax on Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Deputy Minister for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Paul Lafleche, announced that “We initially thought, we mused — never a good thing to do in the media — we mused about doing P3s for some of the Cape Breton expansion or build and after getting down to look at the details of those projects, the scale of them, we asked ourselves a lot of questions … we then decided we would not do P3s in Cape Breton.”

“Hopefully, the millions of dollars saved by this decision will be put into front line services,” adds McFadgen.

“If we want to have more workers to care for patients or Nova Scotians living in long-term care; if we want more beds, specialists, shorter wait times – we must stop borrowing money at double or triple interest rates through these so-called partnerships,” says McFadgen.

“We’re trapped in a cycle of paying off the debt created by past P3s and cutting public services, only to enter into even more P3s. If we don’t end this cycle, we’ll have less and less of the services we need,” says McFadgen.

CUPE Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Health Care Coalition, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the NDP, other unions and community groups have been calling on the Liberal government to stop using P3s, especially when dealing with health infrastructure.

“If they can successfully use a public ‘design-build’ model for new health care projects in British Columbia, they can do it here too,” says McFadgen. “The decision to cut public services is not about budgets, it’s about political will and priorities.”

“The McNeil government could now show true leadership by also reversing the decision to use P3s for the QEII redevelopment project in Halifax.”

“We urge all Nova Scotians and MLAs to demand greater transparency and public involvement in the procurement of our public services and infrastructure.”