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We are embarking on an ideological crusade,” says assistant director of CUPE-Quebec, Michel Parenteau. “People who think these super-hospitals will cost less must believe in fairytales. The experience in the rest of Canada and in Europe is conclusive, and it won’t be any different here.”

Elusive savings

CUPE has done the math, and we can’t figure out how this P3 is going to save Canadians any money. We challenge Monique Jérôme-Forget to demonstrate this Even by Pierre Lefebvre, president of the P3 agency in Quebec, isn’t promising any savings.

A Q&A created by CUPE demonstrates that P3 supporters are coasting on the myth that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Unfortunately, this myth is not supported by the facts.

  • Will the private corporation be able to obtain materials at a lower cost? No lower than private companies working in the conventional mode, as these are the same builders.
  • Will the workers be paid less? That would be impossible, as the same collective agreements for the construction sector are in effect.
  • Will the corporation obtain lower interest rates for financing the project? On the contrary, private firms acknowledge that no organization can negotiate better rates than the government.
  • Will the money invested go directly to infrastructures? The large firms that negotiate contracts with the government generally reserve a profit margin of 10 to 20%, and often higher. Tens of millions of dollars are thus diverted from health services into the pockets of distant, wealthy shareholders.
  • Isn’t it preferable for a part of the risk to be absorbed by a private corporation? Firstly, it is impossible to know if there is a real sharing of risks before the signing of the contract, as the negotiations are always secret. In addition, a company can declare bankruptcy, as was already the case in Great Britain, and then the government has to pick up the pieces.
  • Will deadlines and costs be respected? There is no guarantee. In Brampton, Ontario, the cost of a P3-built hospital nearly doubled, was delivered a year late, and was smaller than the initial project. The same thing happened with the Royal Ottawa Hospital. In London, the cost of relocating three hospitals on a single site went from 770 million to 1.7 billion dollars.
  • After completion, will the maintenance of the building be handled with greater care? Definitely not. Cutting corners increases profits. In addition, in the final years of the contract, what interest would the corporation have in investing in the maintenance of a building that they would soon have to cede to the government? They would be much more likely to let a property run down if it would soon no longer be their responsibility.
CUPE took a certain pleasure in hearing Health Minister Phillippe Couillard state, without batting an eye, that the sometimes-lamentable state of our hospitals was the result of a lack of public investment over the last several years.

We are in total agreement! It is the responsibility of the government to ensure proper care and to invest in our infrastructures. There are no shortcuts for delivering quality services,” said Michel Parenteau. “We are rushing headlong into P3s that will cost us more and increase our public debt, and the buildings inherited by future generations will require major investments to bring them up to standards,” he concluded.