The Sask. Party is contracting out maintenance of the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford to a United Kingdom-based conglomerate as part of its P3 rent-a-hospital scheme – and the price is outrageous.
Of the whopping $407 million price tag for the hospital, $185 is payment for the United Kingdom corporation to handle maintenance of the facility. That amounts to more than $6 million per year for maintenance on a brand new facility.
“In 2014, the entire Prairie North Health Region spent $3.1 million on repairs and maintenance on all hospitals and facilities combined,” said Danielle Chartier, NDP Health critic. “To shovel $185 million, which is more than $6 million every year, into a foreign corporation’s pockets for just one facility is mind-boggling. It's a new building that should be saving money when it comes to maintenance."
The NDP says any claims by government that this amounts to a cost savings are ludicrous.
Provincial auditors in Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia have debunked the method the Sask. Party uses to compare P3 and non-P3 prices. According to the auditors, the same trick being used by the Sask. Party is one that cost Ontario taxpayers an extra $8 billion over 74 P3 projects.
“With the $185 million this government will sign over to the corporation from the United Kingdom for maintenance, we could just about build a second hospital,” said Chartier. “This is a terrible example of misplaced priorities. Just imagine what we could do with an $185 million going into emergency room care to shorten wait times instead of that $185 million going into British billionaires' pockets."
The hospital will be built and maintained by a conglomerate that includes Carillion and Carillion Private Finance (United Kingdom) along with WSP (Quebec); Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning (British Columbia) and Graham Design Builders and Graham Capital Advisors (Alberta). Not one Saskatchewan company is included in the contract.
The building has been in the planning stages for more than a decade, and was "announced" by Brad Wall in 2011, who claimed it would be open in early 2015. The toxic John Black Lean program caused significant delays, as did the change to make the hospital a P3 project. P3s are complex joint-ownership schemes similar to renting the building. In a P3, the government pays a private corporation to borrow the money for it, shelling out much higher interest rates.