CUPE critiques P3 process for Halifax’s new QEII hospitals

CUPE Nova Scotia firmly believes that the so-called “public-private partnership” (P3) being used for the QEII hospitals is not in the best interest of taxpayers, workers, our families or our communities. On the contrary, we can count on public financing to be accountable, transparent, locally-controlled and a wise investment of tax dollars.

CUPE, QEII, Halifax
A view of the existing QEII buildings in Halifax. Photo by Nephron via WIkimedia Commons

“Privatizing the hospital redevelopment will keep Nova Scotians in the dark about the true costs and consequences of the deal. Key details of P3s are not available under freedom of information legislation,” says McFadgen. “We have the right to know.”

“P3s are like using a credit card to pay for our public services,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen. “Over and over, the Liberal government keeps dragging us into more debt by using these disastrous deals. While consultants and corporations make out like bandits in these deals, we end up on the hook, paying much higher interest rates to finance these projects.”

“Years later, when they finally realize their mistakes, our hospitals end up cutting back on the number of beds, staff and any other corner they think they can cut, so the ‘partners’ can make a profit,” says McFadgen. “Premier McNeil needs to listen. There’s no room for profit in our public health care.”

Here are some of CUPE’s main concerns with P3s:

  • “Off book debts” now will mean less available funding in future years.
  • Higher-cost private finance can double the cost of infrastructure projects.
  • Private finance will likely lead to higher user fees, which will increase inequality.
  • P3 projects involve far higher transaction costs — fees paid to lawyers, financial advisors, accounting firms and other consultants — to develop the deals.
  • Much of this extra money will likely flow out of the province, to large companies and investment funds.
  • So why would any provincial government rely on P3s with higher-cost private financing? “There’s a desire by many politicians to keep borrowing costs off their books, at least in the short term. There is also pressure from the P3 and finance industry which want to gain higher rates of return from investing in public infrastructure or privatized public assets,” says CUPE National Researcher Govind Rao.

“Auditors, researchers and journalists across Canada continue to report on P3 failures and the unnecessary waste of taxpayers money, yet here we are in Nova Scotia about to embark on another foreseeable failure with the QEII redevelopment,” says Rao.

“Let’s put our health care dollars into the public health care system, not into construction cost overruns and the pockets of private companies – who may not even be from our province,” says McFadgen.

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