If the Alberta government had used a traditional procurement process in the first place, the 19 new schools would have been built already. Instead, students will spend an extra year in overcrowded schools.
Ottawa (23 June 2014) — Alberta's decision to build 19 schools using traditional procurement instead of a P3 privatization scheme will save the province $14 million. The Alberta government cancelled plans for a P3 after it found that using a P3 privatization scheme would cost $570.7 million compared to $556.6 million using traditional procurement.
Alberta government ditches privatization plan to build schools — saving millions
But it is not just the savings that is good news for Albertans. With P3 privatization schemes, private companies are given control over publicly funded schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. Key details of the costs or service standards are kept from the public — even though it's the public who is paying the bills. Now, the control is back in the hands of directly accountable public officials.
Safety rules for schools ignored as a result of P3 privatization schemes
The story of P3 schools in Nova Scotia illustrates some of the problems with P3 privatization schemes. In 2010, Nova Scotia's auditor general reported that the private companies operating P3 schools were failing to meet many basic safety rules. They included failing to ensure people working in schools had the required child abuse registry and criminal record checks for staff and also failing to complete fire safety inspections.
The same report found that two companies operating P3 schools are subcontracting responsibility for maintenance and operation back to the school boards – but are paying the school boards $52 million less than what they are getting for providing those services. In other words, the school boards are providing the same services to P3 schools as they do at other schools — but the P3 means they have to pay an extra $52 million to a private company to do so.
Alberta government's insistence on using P3s delayed school construction
If the Alberta government had listened to the many warnings it received about the problems with P3s, the decision to use traditional procurement could have been made months ago. The schools would now be under construction. Instead, the Alberta government's insistence on using P3s means many of Alberta's children will be spending an extra year in overcrowded schools.
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