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Conference Board report on P3s biased and superficial, says CUPE economist

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Increased private sector involvement through public-private partnerships (P3s) have delivered efficiency gains for the public sector, a high degree of cost certainty and greater transparency than traditional procurement, the Conference Board of Canada said in a report issued in January.

In their report, Dispelling the Myths, the Conference Board said P3s yield substantial cost and time savings, but cautioned “not all infrastructure projects are suitable for P3 procurement.”

“This report is astoundingly biased and superficial in its analysis and should not be accorded any degree of credibility,” said Toby Sanger, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Senior Economist, who challenged the Conference Board's findings earlier this week in a report of his own.

“The report takes “value for money” reports produced by provincial P3 promotion agencies at face value, ignores recent critical reports by auditors general, sets up biased comparisons in its case studies, misinterprets evidence and includes no substantial analysis to support its claims.”

Sanger also said, “It would be easy for CUPE to go along with the P3 gravy train…but high rates of return come at a price for the public and for future taxpayers.”

He pointed out that P3s provide excellent returns for investors now because liability payments will be absorbed by future generations.

“Somebody is going to have to pay for P3s—and somebody needs to be honest with the public about these growing costs and liabilities,” he said. “Unfortunately the Conference Board’s latest report does nothing to shed light on this crucial issue.”

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