Tag Archives: John Gerretsen

Privatization: The “big bad mistake” Ontario is intent on repeating

“The stealth privatization of Ontario’s gas plants over the past decade set the stage for the inevitable payouts that we now face for decades to come.” – Martin Regg Cohn, Toronto Star columnist, October 9, 2013

Has Kathleen Wynne really learned her lesson? With last week’s report raising the cost of the cancelled gas plants to $1.1 billion, you’d think it would give the government pause over similar privatization deals. That, after all, is the essence of why the cancelled gas plants cost so much. Ground had not even been broken on the Oakville site, the contracted company unable to secure construction permits from the municipality.

Ontario’s Premier called the cancellation a “big, bad mistake,” but much of the cost of these cancelled deals lies in the privatized structure the government chose to develop public infrastructure.

Only a week earlier the same government, supposedly humbled by this deal, announced that a different private consortium had been chosen the winner to build a new 30-year public-private partnership hospital in Kingston.

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Police call on government to step up mental health support

As Kingston’s Providence Care prepares to shed nearly a fifth of its workforce and close beds at the former Kingston Psychiatric Hospital, there have been a number of media stories this week providing clear evidence capacity for mental health services in Canada is already woefully inadequate.

Yesterday CTV reported that Canada’s police chiefs called upon government to step up support for mental health services.

Association President Jim Chu of the Vancouver Police services said the number of people apprehended in that city under the Mental Health Act has more than quadrupled since 2002.

“We went from the agency of last resort to the mental health service agency of first resort,” Chu told CTV. “And that’s wrong. That’s failing those who are mentally ill and who deserve better care.”

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Kingston votes 96 per cent against hospital privatization

Kingston City Council's Jim Neill urges residents to vote on Princess Street.

Kingston City Council’s Jim Neill urges residents to vote on Princess Street.

It had all the trappings of an election. There were lawn signs, TV commercials, and door-to-door campaigners. The local media solicited the views of both politicians and citizens as everyone scrambled to become informed before the vote.

Saturday Kingston residents got the opportunity to express their preference on whether a proposed new hospital facility in their community was going to be entirely public or be under a 30-year finance and maintenance contract with a private for-profit consortium.

While this election wasn’t conducted by Elections Ontario or Elections Canada, it had the feeling of being the real deal. Citizens were given the opportunity by the Ontario Health Coalition to consider a private or public option even if the result will be non-binding.

After five weeks of public debate, the answer was clear. 96% of the 9,885 votes cast at more than 50 polling stations said yes to keep the new hospital entirely public.

We have had one “official” election on this issue before. In the 2003 provincial election Dalton McGuinty opposed privatizing public infrastructure, campaigning against two “public-private partnership” (P3) hospital deals set up by then Premier Ernie Eves.

Like the results in Kingston, in 2003 the public instinctively bridled against the idea of privatizing key elements of Ontario’s public infrastructure. It helped give McGuinty the first of his two back-to-back majorities. Ontarians were already aware of what a bad deal the province got from privatizing Highway 407. They were worried about the impact of deregulation and privatization of electric power, particularly after a devastating outage in August of that year that took out much of the continental northeast.

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Kingston P3: John Gerretsen should know better

Carleton University's Hugh Armstrong speaks about P3s in Kingston March 4.

Carleton University’s Hugh Armstrong speaks about P3s in Kingston March 4.

KINGSTON – As a Minister of the Crown, Kingston MPP John Gerretsen should know better.

At yesterday’s anti-privatization rally in front of his Kingston constituency office, Gerretsen was steadfast in his assertion that the deficit rendered the government unable to build new hospitals without private involvement in the finance, design, construction and long-term maintenance of the building.

The protesters are upset by the government’s plans to use a public-private partnership (P3) deal to build a new hospital in Kingston. The new facility will replace the aging psychiatric and rehab hospitals.

At the same time, Gerretsen surprised the protesters by telling them he knew the P3 option was more expensive.

The suggestion is that somehow using the private sector takes the costs of doing these projects off the government accounts. This is completely untrue.

It’s a little like taking out your high interest VISA card as a solution to your debts.

You don’t have to take our word for it.

The Conference Board of Canada issued a report in 2010 funded largely by pro-P3 groups such as the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, PPP Canada and Partnerships BC. To say the report subsequently contains a pro-P3 bias is a massive understatement.

Despite this, the report acknowledges that the idea of taking these financial obligations off-book has no value.

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