Debate continues over public-private partnerships

November 19, 2008
by PB2B Staff

Halifax—The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is calling on the government of Nova Scotia to disclose the true costs of public-private partnerships (P3s).

“There is no shortage of analysis produced by CUPE and other organizations detailing the risks related to P3s and how they work against the public good,” said Danny Cavanagh, president of CUPE Nova Scotia.

“Public private partnerships give the responsibility for financing projects to the private sector, even though traditional municipal financing is simple, relatively easy and less costly than private financing.”

In a letter to Premier Rodney MacDonald, Cavanagh called for full reporting on the partnerships before they’re signed. The disclosures should be analyzed and fully publicized before the contract is set, according to Cavanagh.

The debate around P3s has raged for years, with proponents such as Partnerships BC—owned by the BC provincial government—promoting their benefits. The organization points to P3s’ ability to make procurement and infrastructure projects more efficient, while distributing risk to the various partners. Higher borrowing costs in the private sector are offset by process efficiencies, according to the organization.

“Public-private partnerships are delivering real benefits to communities across the province, and as our infrastructure needs grow, we’ll continue to use these partnerships where they make sense for taxpayers and communities,” said BC Premier Gordon Campbell in 2007.