Cost of lawyers and consultants for privatization scheme higher than sale price

“Those costs show why the privatization industry is aggressively lobbying for more privatization and why we need to keep fighting them.” — James Clancy, NUPGE National President

Toronto (01 Oct. 2015) — The Ontario Liberals have paid lawyers and consultants $6.5 million to help them sell Ontera, the communications division of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission.

That’s $500,000 more than Bell Aliant paid for Ontera.

Privatization industry making big money — at the public’s expense

Even for a relatively small privatization scheme like this one, lawyers and consultants were paid $6.5 million. For larger deals, the costs are much higher.

In the planned sale of Hydro One, the banks alone are getting up to $270 million to sell shares. That figure doesn’t include the millions that lawyers, consultants, accountants and others are already raking in.

Who’s in the privatization industry

The money to be made providing legal, consulting, accounting and financial services for privatization deals means that it isn’t just the companies taking over privatized services that profit from privatization. Multinational consulting and accounting corporations, banks, and Bay Street law firms are all making millions.

Together, these companies form a privatization industry. They lobby aggressively for more privatization deals and, when a politician or senior bureaucrat that supported privatization is looking for a new job, they don’t have to look too hard.

After leaving office both former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty and former finance minister Dwight Duncan, who helped oversee Ontario’s use of P3 privatization schemes, found work in the privatization industry. 

Costs of privatization industry hidden

With most privatization schemes the public never gets to hear about how much the privatization industry profited. Like other aspects of privatization, key information is kept secret. Getting the information made public is an uphill fight.

“What’s unique about the Ontera privatization is that we’re able to see how much legal and consulting costs add to the cost of privatizing public services,” said James Clancy, National President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE). “Those costs show why the privatization industry is aggressively lobbying for more privatization and why we need to keep fighting them.”

More information: 


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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 360,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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