The recent decision not to use P3s for the redevelopment of the two Cape Breton hospitals shows decisions to privatize public services can be reversed.
Ottawa (13 Nov. 2019) ― Last week it was revealed that the Nova Scotia government has abandoned plans to use P3 privatization schemes to build two health care facilities in Cape Breton. Instead public procurement will be used to redevelop hospitals in New Waterford and North Sydney.
Government reluctant to admit P3 plans being abandoned
There was a contrast between how the Nova Scotia government announced its plans to use P3 privatization schemes to redevelop the two hospital sites in Cape Breton and how it admitted the P3s were being abandoned. In April the announcement that P3s would be used was made by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and a media release was sent out. The Minister painted a rosy picture of P3s, even though Nova Scotia’s highest profile P3 is widely recognized to have been a failure.
But there was no special announcement with a cabinet minister on hand for the decision to abandon the planned P3s. Instead it was mentioned in passing at a panel discussion by a deputy minister.
This isn’t a surprise. The privatization industry has a long history of trying to bury what it considers to be bad news.
P3s still being used for Halifax hospital redevelopment
Unfortunately, P3 privatization schemes are still being used to redevelop the largest hospital in Nova Scotia, the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. As the NSGEU pointed out, this decision will push up costs. Using a P3 for the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre also ignores problems with other P3 privatization schemes in Nova Scotia.
But as the recent decision not to use P3s for the redevelopment of the two Cape Breton hospitals shows, decisions to privatize public services can be reversed.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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