Meanwhile, Campbell’s recent announcement about Partnerships BC is drawing flak from a union leader and the NDP. According to his prepared speech notes, Campbell told UBCM delegates that “P3s save money, transfer risk, and add great value through design innovations and private-sector ingenuity.”
But Bruce Ralston, the NDP’s finance critic, told the Straight that Campbell’s announcement now places the onus on municipalities and other public agencies to prove that a P3 wouldn’t be better.
“Given the way that they treat the evidence in those things, it’s a bit stacked,” Ralston said, adding that the new requirement could well cost taxpayers more money.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees calls Campbell’s announcement a “disaster” for municipalities.
CUPE BC secretary-treasurer Mark Hancock told the Straight that the new policy changes the rules about privatization of public services by taking control of capital projects away from municipalities.
“You have to let Campbell’s friends do it,” Hancock said. “Most communities in B.C., I think, want to retain ownership and operation [of public services].”
Taylor told the Straight that both Partnerships BC and her ministry are still working out the new requirements for large capital projects.
“This is a new model that we will be looking at as a result of the premier’s announcement at UBCM,” Taylor said, adding that the default position is that the projects will be done as P3s. Taylor also said that details about how the final decision will be made have yet to be decided.
“When you have new ideas, I think it takes time for people to see where the benefits are,” she said.
The view that P3s are always successful has far from universal acceptance. Last month—in a report for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives—economist Marvin Shaffer showed that the Sea to Sky highway project, a P3, will cost $220 million more than it would have if it had been done using the government’s traditional financing and procurement processes.