Health care is not the only public service to experience reckless ventures into private delivery of key components.
The Auditor General of Ontario (AG) raises numerous questions about costly private delivery of public services in his recent review of Metrolinx, the regional transportation planning body in the Greater Toronto Area.
Among the findings in Jim McCarter’s 2012 annual report –
- Metrolinx’s Presto Card is among the most expensive transit fare card systems in the world, yet it does little more than substitute as a fare purse.
- The airport-downtown rail link was delayed after the private partner in the public-private partnership (P3) had to pull out due to questions raised by its financial backers over optimistic ridership projections. The projected high cost of fares is anticipated to weaken ridership. The P3 was eventually abandoned.
- Cost have dramatically increased on the Union Station revitalization project – the construction being handled by Vanbots, a division of Carillion Construction, one of the consortium partners presently bidding on the new Kingston hospital to replace that city’s aging mental health facilities.
- Metrolinx is using the P3 model for a three kilometre spur line that connects to the GO line from the airport. The auditor notes that the P3 option was $22 million more expensive, justified by the now familiar “risk” calculation of $42 million on a $128.6 million project. Like the William Osler Hospital, the auditor raises questions about the methodology used to calculate such risk and justify the more costly option.
- The consulting firm used to evaluate the risk on the spur line project won the bid to provide engineering and technical advisory services to support planning and procurement for the project.
By now this mess is all beginning to sound very familiar.
Dalton McGuinty initially ran an election in opposition to Tory plans to build two P3 hospitals in Brampton and Ottawa. In power, he not only signed off on those deals with only superficial changes, but he embarked on more than 30 more such projects in the hospital sector alone. Ontario now represents more than half of all P3 projects in Canada.