Ontario has been leading the country in pursuing private deals to finance, develop and maintain public infrastructure projects, including a significant number of major hospital redevelopments.
Last week we looked at how public-private partnerships turn projects away from the public interest. In Part I we looked at what P3s are and how the concept of risk has been used to overcome project costs that have been much higher than traditional public procurement. And along the way we poked some fun at the arguments put forward by the business community looking to get rich at our expense.
This week we debunk the myth put forward by the Conference Board of Canada that all is now well in the P3 world.
The Conference Board of Canada has suggested that Canadian P3s fall into two categories – Phase I, which we could summarize as the “we didn’t know what the heck we were doing and made a real mess of things but continued to deny it until the evidence was overwhelming” phase, and Phase II, post 2004, in which provincial and federal governments set up P3 infrastructure offices that, according to the Conference Board, now know what they are doing. Phew! Nothing to see here! Everybody go back to watching hockey.
Of course, when post 2004 P3s go off the rails, they blame it on municipalities, which apparently still don’t know what they are doing. P3s are still a great idea, they say. They just need more, well… rules. After all, this whole idea is not complicated enough already.