October 4, 2018: P3 Hospital Announcement

CBC online: Total cost of QEII redevelopment will be about $2 billion

The use of public-private partnerships has come under fire from auditors general in Canada.

In 2014, Ontario's auditor general revealed that public-private partnerships to build hospitals, schools and roads in that province actually ended up costing taxpayers more money.

Over a nine-year period, the partnerships cost $8 billion more than if they were managed by the public sector.

Chris Parsons, provincial co-ordinator of the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, said there's plenty of evidence to show P3 projects can quickly turn into "disasters."

"No one who ever gets ripped off thinks they're getting ripped off," he said. "If you get ripped off, you think you're getting a good deal. And we think this is another case here. Every jurisdiction has thought they could get the better of the private industry and in reality we've seen cost overruns."

The Star: Advocates say P3 model problematic for Halifax hospital redevelopment (behind a soft paywall)

Many organizations, including the Nova Scotia Health Coalition, are calling out yesterday’s privately owned hospital announcement as a disaster waiting to happen:

“We’re concerned about what the financial implications are if the private company involved is unable to meet their obligations over the next 30 years. There’s no guarantee that they’d be able to,” Parsons said.

“What are we going to do if the company we’ve contracted to do this goes belly up in 20 years? That is a really serious concern and one that hasn’t been addressed.”

Parsons said he had long advocated that government not turn to a P3 model and was “deeply disappointed” by the province’s announcement on Thursday.

“We would like to see it built, owned and operated by the public … We think that there is ample evidence from other provinces and from Nova Scotia that public ownership, public management of these buildings delivers better services and it does so more efficiently in terms of expenditures,” Parsons said.

“We’re already under pressure, and so in the long run it’s a bad deal for Nova Scotians, and we’re really afraid that it’s money being thrown away that could be spent on front line services a decade from now.”

Parsons isn’t alone in condemning the P3 funding decision

We also appeared on CBC Radio, News 95.7’s Sheldon McLeod Show and Todd Veinott Show, and the CBC evening television broadcast.

Chris Parsons