Jan 20, 2010

B.C. Auditor General P3 review is timely

Canadian reports find problems with public-private partnerships

BURNABY—Evidence is mounting that Canadian taxpayers are being sold a bill of goods with privatization. And a review of B.C.’s public-private partnerships (P3) process by BC’s Auditor General is welcome and timely according to the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

In December, BC Auditor General John Doyle reported to the BC Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee that his office is doing some work in regard to P3s.

Doyle’s investigation may benefit from reports by Auditors General in Quebec and Ontario that offer stinging critiques of the approach to promoting P3s used by the B.C. government’s privatization agency Partnerships BC and others. As well, BC economist Marvin Shaffer and forensic accountants Ron Parks and Rosanne Terhart, have provided assessments that question the B.C. government claim that P3s save money.

“The provincial government and Partnerships BC are going full steam ahead with P3s, regardless of mounting evidence that they are a taxpayer rip-off. We need a truly independent review by the BC Auditor General,” says CUPE BC President Barry O’Neill.

Both the Ontario and Quebec Auditors General have questioned key aspects of P3s related to risk transfer and financing. The Quebec Auditor General raises concerns that agencies like Partnerships BC offer supposedly independent analysis while being closely involved in the preparation of proposals that support privatization over public operation.

“There is significant evidence that the process is stacked in favour of privatization – not the public interest. And that should concern the Auditor General,” says O’Neill.

CUPE has provided the BC Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee with background briefing material summarizing the growing critique of P3s, which can be found at

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