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McGuinty government clinging to P3 model despite even higher costs

TORONTO – The cost penalty paid by governments for financing hospitals and other public infrastructure projects through public private partnerships (P3s) has jumped substantially since the onset of the financial crisis, says a report released today by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).

Economist Hugh Mackenzie’s report, Bad Before, Worse Now:  The Financial Crisis and the Skyrocketing Costs of Public Private Partnerships (P3s), documents how the financial crisis has made P3s an even more expensive and risky way to build public goods like hospitals, roads and schools. 

“The financial crisis has been bad news for private investors looking to profit from so-called public private partnerships,” says the report’s author, independent economist Hugh MacKenzie.  “The financial crisis has increased the spread between borrowing costs for the private and public sectors and made it harder to attract investors to highly leveraged projects.  If P3 financing was bad before the financial crisis, it’s even worse now, and all governments should take notice.”

The report finds that the financing cost disadvantage for P3s had reached as much as 60% in the early stages of the credit crunch and now has reached 83%, even assuming that P3 operators are prepared to accept lower rates of profit. That means that governments can afford to invest 83% more in infrastructure projects if they are publicly financed than if they are privately financed.

The McGuinty government remains fully committed to this funding model for vital institutions like hospitals, even though P3s increase costs by hundreds of millions of dollars for every large project, including hospitals in North Bay, Sault Ste Marie, Ottawa and St Catharines. 

“Who benefits from P3s?  Not the public, not patients, not our communities,” said Michael Hurley, President of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions (OCHU/CUPE).  “The Liberals are wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars with P3 hospitals, even while the government cuts health care services, programs, ER departments and even whole hospitals in smaller and rural communities.  It’s time to abandon this flawed policy.”


For more information:

Hugh Mackenzie  Economist    416-884-5378 (C)
Michael Hurley  President, OCHU   416-884-0770 (C)
David Robbins  CUPE Communications  613-878-1431 (C)


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