Public Values

Manitoba may soon require P3 public accountability

More accountability, transparency needed before starting P3 projects.

Struthers: Act will align project-planning process with best practices, help make informed decisionsWINNIPEG, MB, June 1, 2012: While many governments across the country seem determined to introduce public-private partnerships (P3s), the Manitoba government is the only one addressing major accountability and transparency concerns through actual legislation, says the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).

The NDP government has presented new rules to improving transparency and accountability in the public-private partnerships, taking into account many of the well-researched concerns about P3s. Research in Canada and internationally has found that when contracting out the responsibility for any project, the government and its citizens end up paying more while receiving less services. They have less overall accountability for how the project is run and they encounter major difficulty resolving problems.

  "The proposed public-private partnerships transparency and accountability act will help ensure Manitoba taxpayers get the best value for their infrastructure dollars."

A public-private partnership is a long-term agreement where responsibility for financing, operations or maintenance of a major public sector capital project is transferred to a private sector partner. P3s are generally used for larger-scale assets that are designed and built by a private sector company for government.

The proposed legislation would require public sector entities, including the government of Manitoba and municipalities that wish to enter into private-public partnerships for projects, to:

•conduct a detailed risk and value-for-money analysis to determine if a P3 arrangement provides the best value for the money;
•consult with the public before proceeding with the bidding process;
•appoint an independent fairness monitor to oversee and review the bidding process;
•publicly report the terms of the P3 contract; and
•provide regular status reports during the term of the partnership.

Public consultation is particularly important, the minister noted in his announcement, as is the independent monitoring of the bidding process. The legislation would require public consultation prior to deciding to proceed with a public-private partnership agreement.

"The proposed public-private partnerships transparency and accountability act will help ensure Manitoba taxpayers get the best value for their infrastructure dollars and ensure public sector entities including the government of Manitoba and municipalities are accountable for their decisions," said Stan Struthers, Minister of Finance. "It will align Manitoba's project-planning process with identified best practices and help Manitobans make informed decisions on the major projects that will serve this province now and for future generations."

As a long-time opponent of P3s, NUPGE has raised ongoing concerns about the process, operation and maintenance of such projects that undermine the quality of public services and public service workers. "It is worthwhile to note that the Manitoba government has addressed many of the recommendations just presented in Something to Value, the Ontario Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness Interim Report," says James Clancy, NUPGE National President. "We are interested to see how this legislation unfolds to tackle our long-standing concerns."

Links and sources
  Manitoba government introduces legislation requiring P3 public accountability

Posted: June 06, 2012

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