P3 option doesn’t privatize

Surrey schools would be safe with public-private partnerships.

Re: NDP opposes privatization of Surrey Schools (Oct. 14).

We would like to lay to rest some misconceptions and, in some cases, misinformation that is circulating around the use of a public-private partnership (P3) to procure new schools in Surrey.

It should be made abundantly clear that using a P3 in no way privatizes the schools or the education offered by the board.

Under the Canadian model, P3 infrastructure is publicly owned and publicly controlled. There may be examples where some maintenance or operational elements are contracted to a private partner but at no point is the asset owned by private interests.

P3s are not “an option to pay for public education.” There is no lease involved. There is no buy back This is nothing like a “car-lease.” It is glib, if not absurd to compare the complex construction of schools to purchasing a sofa.

Mr. Horgan should understand that and should know better.

Misrepresenting P3s as privatization does a disservice to the parents and community members who want to be thoroughly and properly informed of their choices.

Your article suggests the Surrey Board of Education and the Teachers’ Association have voiced opposition to P3s. We might suggest board members, teachers and community members in Surrey review an ongoing project in Saskatchewan where public-private partnerships are being used to build 18 elementary schools in four communities that are experiencing unprecedented growth.

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education is building P3 schools in Saskatoon, Regina, Warman and Martensville. They are scheduled to open in September 2017. An independent value for money report prepared by KPMG confirmed the P3 approach saved Saskatchewan taxpayers $100 million dollars when compared to a traditional model.

When they’re done for the right reasons and the right projects, P3s consistently outperform the traditional approach – delivering infrastructure on time and on budget. P3s are only done when they demonstrate value for taxpayers’ money.

Having said all that, we will be the first to acknowledge that P3s are not a panacea when it comes to addressing infrastructure needs. Public-private partnerships are not suitable for all projects but to know that requires thoughtful consideration of the facts and due diligence.

It requires an educated decision – one that is informed by technical, legal, and financial information in order to establish the facts of the matter.

The best result will come from an evidence based decision rather than one based on misinformation or willful ignorance on the part of P3 opponents.

 

Mark Romoff, president and CEO

Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships

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