P3 schools to cost at least $176 million more overall

Extra cost is more than $20 million per school

Comparing the Sask. Party’s announced price on P3 schools to recent joint-use school builds, the P3 rent-a-school route will cost taxpayers an extra $176 million.

The government announced Tuesday they’ll pay $635 million for nine joint-use P3 schools, or $70.56 million per school. One joint-use school opened in Swift Current in 2014 cost $51 million. The Willowgrove joint-use school was even less expensive than that, and also not a P3.

“For the government to claim this is a cost savings is absolutely ludicrous,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “Taxpayers don’t want to shell out millions more to support this government’s blind pursuit of P3 rent-a-school ideology, and parents don’t support a corporation from Milwaukee managing their children’s schools.”

Wotherspoon noted that more costs may be associated with the P3s – including legal and consulting fees, as well as hefty amounts given to all short-listed conglomerates that bid on the project.

Across Canada, governments have been moving away from P3s because they cost more.

In Nova Scotia, a Conservative government abandoned that province’s P3 schools plan after finding the new schools were costing $2 million more, each, than a straightforward build. In Alberta, the P3 schools plan was scrapped by the previous government because it failed to be competitive enough to guarantee value.

In Ontario, the Auditor General said 74 P3 projects in that province, combined, cost taxpayers an extra $8 billion. Both there and in Saskatchewan, independent provincial auditors found that so-called value for money calculations were bogus, based on bad assumptions to make P3 deals look better.

In B.C., P3 Crown Partnerships B.C. has been embroiled in conflict of interest scandals – but, despite that, the Sask. Party government is giving it $5.6 million in consulting fees in its P3 push.