Public Values

Ontario Auditor General: $614-million Brampton Civic P3 cost $394-million too much

There is no doubt P3s can be done better. But no one is asking whether they should be done at all.

The Ontario Auditor General says it would have been cheaper for us to build Brampton publiclyFebruary 5, 2009 — To P3 or not P3, that is the question.

Public-private partnerships (P3s) are an increasingly popular method for financing the construction of public works projects, from sewage systems through to hospitals.

But a recent report by the Auditor General of Ontario should give pause.

Auditor General Jim McCarter examined in detail the deal that saw a private consortium build Brampton Civic Hospital and lease it back to the province.

Using the ever-cautious words of an accountant, his bottom line was: "Our work indicated that the all-in cost could well have been lower if the government had built the hospital itself."

Put more bluntly: Taxpayers got screwed.

On paper, P3s look good. The idea is that private business will use its acumen and access to capital to build facilities quickly and cost-effectively. Cash-strapped governments, for their part, are able to invest in much-needed infrastructure now while repaying investors over the long term - as individuals do with a mortgage.

In theory, this allows both public and private partners to focus on what they do best.

But let's take a look at what happened in practice at Brampton Civic Hospital. . .

To read further. . .

Links and sources
  In this PPP, taxpayers are the ones who paid, by Andre Picard, The Globe and Mail, February 5 2009

Posted: February 05, 2009

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