NDP calls on government to follow Alberta, scrap P3 schools scheme

The Government of Alberta announced Wednesday it has scrapped its plan to build P3 schools, saying the P3 plan would cost an extra $14 million. Saskatchewan’s NDP is calling on the provincial government to do the same, and scrap its expensive and secretive P3 schools scheme.

“P3s are not right for schools,” said NDP Deputy Leader and education critic Trent Wotherspoon. “They cost more. It can take a lot longer to get shovels in the ground. And, we really lose access and more when we contract a private corporation to operate and control our kids’ schools over the life of a 30-year contract.”

Alberta has already had bad experiences with P3 schools. In a previous round of builds, the private company in control wouldn’t allow community groups to use the school. The cookie-cutter schools also didn’t fit individual communities’ sizes, but the company wouldn’t allow portable classrooms to be added as an interim fix.

“It’s great that the Government of Alberta decided that paying more isn’t right for Alberta families,” said Wotherspoon. “Now the Saskatchewan government needs to do the same. This government needs to stop wasting time and money, and get to work building the public schools our kids and our communities desperately need.”

In Dec., the government voted against an NDP bill which would have made P3s transparent, and helped prevent bad deals for taxpayers. The Public-Private Partnership Transparency and Accountability Act, called for an independent accountability watchdog on each P3, and would have prevented the government from using the P3 method for major capital projects if there were less than three bidders on the contract. The law would also have required an economic analysis and the full price tag of the project – including the cost of credit – to be reported to taxpayers.

The NDP has also raised concerns that Saskatchewan’s construction industry could be shut out by the P3 bundling scheme.

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For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus