The following letter from OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas was published in the Toronto Sun on May 12, 2019.
I was fascinated by word that Ontario Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton believes that Public Private Partnerships are a helpful tool (“We can do it better,” May 2).
To start with, after reading Monte’s article, I think he has a great future as a science fiction writer once he is done with politics, or in his case probably once politics is done with him. Monte has gone into orbit if he really believes that P3s are the better way for Ontario. I guess since Monte has been so busy writing fiction, he never got a chance to read some hard facts from the provincial auditor general.
Bonnie Lysyk looked at P3s in 2015 and found that private partners had led the poor, unsuspecting Ontario taxpayer down the garden path to the tune of nearly $8 billion in extra costs. That is $8 billion that could have been spent on health care or education, but instead it ended up in the grubby paws of the same kind of cronies who are lining up at Doug Ford’s taxpayer-funded camper-van for their payout.
Monte’s other bit of Twilight Zone musing that caught my eye was his proud claim that 95% of the more than the 100 or so P3s in the past eight years were delivered on budget and about 70% were delivered on time. Oh really, Monte? What about the 38% cost overrun to build the Providence Care Mental Health and Rehab Hospital in my hometown of Kingston. Or how about Toronto South Detention Centre where security cameras weren’t working, shatterproof glass shattered and to this day staff have to battle through endless layers of P3 red tape to get minor repairs done. Or what about a couple of our correctional facilities where they wanted to paint lines on the gymnasium floors but the P3 operator cited a price tag in the tens of thousands so they abandoned the whole scheme. Then there was the snowjob Ontarians were given by Carillion, which collapsed in the middle of winter last year, leaving Ontarians adrift in the snow.
Is this how you think Ontario can do better, Monte? Private companies don’t sign on to these projects unless there’s a fat profit, either up front or tucked away in the gymnasium. Ontarians can compare the facts on privatization to the Ford falsehoods and in this case the facts win out every time.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas