Because P3 schools cost more, sacrifice control and building could be delayed by complex contract negotiations, the NDP is calling on the government to build the schools Saskatchewan needs publicly, and start today.
“Saskatchewan families need new schools today – let’s get those schools built cost-effectively and quickly by planning to finance, own and operate them ourselves,” said NDP education critic Trent Wotherspoon. “The economy is strong, and families are doing their part to grow our neighbourhoods. The government’s job is to operate schools. This government needs to get some shovels in the ground.
“Today’s announcement from the government correctly identified some of the communities that need education infrastructure; but this government is choosing the wrong approach and failing to provide a timeline. It hasn’t told parents, educators and students when they can expect some relief from today’s overcrowding and crumbling schools.”
Alberta and Nova Scotia already tried having private companies finance and operate public schools with the P3 approach, and learned the privately-operated public schools cost more and resulted in a loss of control of the schools to private operators.
Complex requests-for-proposals and lengthy contract negotiations also mean it can take longer for construction to begin on P3 schools.
In Nova Scotia, a Liberal government contracted bundled P3 schools, but massive costs caused the next Conservative government to scrap the 50-school plan. The last dozen schools were built publicly, and taxpayers saved $2 million per school by doing it that way.
The Columbia Institute records higher public sector borrowing costs and massive legal and consulting fees as part of the bigger bill taxpayers have to foot when it comes to P3s.
In Alberta, the P3-schools plan also resulted in a loss of control of the school buildings – including the private operator refusing to allow desperately-needed portable classrooms to be attached to schools while day cares, community groups and sports teams lost access.
“The evidence is clear – P3 schools cost more, and cost communities control and access to their own schools,” said Wotherspoon. “Saskatchewan should finance, own and operate the schools we need ourselves, and get construction started now.”
For more information, contact:
Erin Morrison, NDP caucus