Public-Private Partnership. Sounds benign, doesn't it? An arrangement to allow for more infrastructure at the public's disposal, with lower financial cost compared to the whole process of design, building and operating by the Crown. We heard a lot about things to acheive more for less starting in the '80's with Reagan and Thatcher. It sounded pretty good to Brian Mulroney, but it was the Chretien majorities that made short-term political gains of "economic management" into an infrastructure deficit that lined up suitors to play their role in the P3 scam. As the federal money dried up, Premiers Harris and Klein among others closed, privatized or simply surrendered public assets to corporate players. Because private delivery was more competitive and less expensive, the story went. Neo-liberalism.
A change in governments means a change in priorities. People needed all those things nobody built for 15 years, but where was the money to come from? Have no fear, corporations will save the day by "investing" in public works. With 30 to 40 year term contracts and no renegotiation. With free control over delivery of services. With guaranteed margins of profit. With zero accountability compared to Crown works.
Ontario is paying for its P3 habit and there's no end in sight. The Wynne Liberals wear it now but they are hardly the only ones guilty. As the election nears, can any party provide relief?
Rick Barnes has been a union and social justice advocate in BC and Ontario. In the 1990's he worked for the NDP government in various roles. In 2000, he went on to work for BCPWA and AIDS Vancouver before relocating to Ontario in 2006 to work in Co-operative Housing. Today, Rick is retired and volunteers for a wide range of social justice groups in Ontario and across Canada. He can be found on twitter at @queerthoughts. Rick joins The View Up Here to discuss Ontario's P3 Habit and the pain to come.