Manitoba Government cancels proposed P3 schools: commitment to keep new schools public right step, says CUPE

CUPE members in Manitoba are celebrating a major victory against P3s.

Five new schools in Winnipeg and Brandon will be built without the using a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model, according to the 2018 Manitoba Budget.

The government initially planned to build four schools under the P3 model, but after a cost-benefit analyses the savings were found to be enough to build an entire fifth school!

“We are incredibly relieved that the government has chosen not to pursue P3 schools here in Manitoba,” said Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “P3 schools across Canada have proven to be more expensive and less accountable to the public, and this is case-in-point.”

(CUPE 737 members and supporters raising awareness in the community against P3 schools)

Throughout 2017, CUPE conducted a sustained campaign in Manitoba to “raise red flags” on P3 schools. CUPE 737, representing workers at Brandon School Division, held a public Town Hall meeting, presented to the Brandon School Division Board of Trustees numerous times, and reached out to the community.

“It was incredibly important for the public to understand the implications P3 schools could have, so we made a real effort to inform the public since the government wasn’t going to do so,” said Jamie Rose, President of CUPE 737.

“We are glad that the government has backed off its plans for P3 schools, and can actually now build one more school than they had planned.”

P3 schools failed on cost, transparency and accountability across Canada. In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta, P3 schools cost millions of dollars more than they would have cost had the projects been built traditionally. It’s likely the same story for Saskatchewan, where cost claims about P3 schools have been shrouded in secrecy, and are based on faulty calculations.

P3 schools have been found to be less transparent and accountable to citizens, which was particularly alarming for CUPE considering the provincial government’s recent scrapping of the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act.

“It was clear to us, despite what Pallister said when he first announced the new schools, that the P3 school experience across Canada has cost Canadians millions of dollars more than the fully public model,” said Egan.

(Public advertising against P3 schools in Brandon)

“We hope the Pallister government will take this cue, and consult with CUPE and our experts on other privatization schemes, including our concerns with other P3s, Social Impact Bonds, private child care, and privatization in health care.”

This victory was a success because CUPE members worked together, as a united front.

“I want to thank the leaders and activists at CUPE 737, as well as Chair of the CUPE Manitoba School Division Sector Gale Morton, Regional Vice-President Gord Delbridge, CUPE members from other sectors, and the staff at CUPE Regional and CUPE National offices for all their support throughout this campaign,” said Egan.

“When CUPE members work together, we can – and do – win”.

For more information visit cupe.mb.ca/p3schools

Manitoba Throne Speech opens door to further privatization

The Canadian Union of Public Employees – Manitoba is deeply concerned that the November 21 Speech from the Throne further opens the doorway to privatization of public services and programs, particularly services for children.

“The Pallister government has spent the past year throwing our health care system into chaos, and introducing privatization schemes like P3 Schools and Social Impact Bonds,” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba.

“This government seems more concerned about their ideology than what is best for Manitobans, and today’s Throne Speech continues down that path.”

Since last year’s Throne Speech, the Pallister government has rolled out its plan to close Emergency Rooms, cut funding to health authorities province-wide, introduced Public-Private Partnership (P3s) schemes to schools in Winnipeg and Brandon, and pursued Social Impact Bonds – a way for the private sector to garner profit from public social services.

Today’s 2017 Throne Speech further reinforces the government’s plan to pursue the dangerous path of privatization, especially in services for children. Meanwhile the government has eliminated transparency and accountability legislation for P3s.

“This government is introducing a Social Impact Bond in our child welfare system, and P3s for our schools, but has never had any open discussions on if these models even work,” said Egan.

“We know there are serious concerns about Social Impact Bonds and P3s, but the government is pushing through anyways, it’s irresponsible and ideological.”

While CUPE recognizes the need for improving access to child care in Manitoba, the government’s plans to provide incentives to the private sector to build more private child care spots is not in the best interest of Manitoba families.

“We need more public spaces and facilities,” said Egan. “Going down the path of subsidizing more private for-profit day care is the wrong direction. The government should instead be supporting non-profit community and school based child care.”

In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 26,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

CUPE presents to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs on Bill 24

CUPE Manitoba President Terry Egan and CUPE Local 500 President Gord Delbridge made presentations to the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs on Bill 24, The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act which aims to eliminate The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act.

“When this government was elected, one of it’s key messages to the public was that it was going to improve transparency,” CUPE Manitoba President Terry Egan told the committee.

“Eliminating the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act is moving in the complete opposite direction”.

“I worked on the front-line in a Winnipeg school, its where I spent my entire career,” said Egan. “So this announcement came as a total shock to me. I wondered who on Broadway could come up with this backwards idea, and why”, referencing the Pallister government’s plans to build new schools in Manitoba under a P3 model while at the same time eliminating the P3 Transparency and Accountability Act.

CUPE 500 President Gord Delbridge provided the committee with numerous examples from across Canada where P3s have failed, and emphasized the importance of strong P3 accountability legislation.

“Rather than throwing out this legislation, we ask this government to instead turn its mind to improving The Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act to ensure even more transparency and better oversight of P3’s from the beginning to the end of the end of P3 projects,” said Delbridge.

“While some may call this red tape – most Manitobans would call this common sense”.

Read CUPE Manitoba and CUPE Local 500’s presentations:

CUPE Manitoba P3 Speaking Notes
CUPE Local 500 Speaking Notes

Social Impact Bonds wrong direction for Manitoba’s social services – CUPE

Today the Manitoba government announced the opening of a request for proposals for Social Impact Bonds, a scheme in which private companies profit off social service delivery.

“There was a time when the private sector would simply make philanthropic donations as part of their corporate responsibility to the community” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba. “Social Impact Bonds take that corporate philanthropy and turn it into a private money-making scheme”.

While Pallister claims that Social Impact Bonds would foster “private-sector innovation,” these companies will seek to invest in only the non-government agencies that would see profitable outcomes, rather than programs that seek to address long-term root causes of many of societies deep and complex issues, including poverty.

“Social Impact Bonds are like P3s, for social services. We have the in-house expertise we need to deliver social services right here in Manitoba,” said Egan. “There’s no need to outsource the financing, planning and evaluation of social programs to consultants and corporations”.

For more information on Social Impact Bonds, see these helpful links:

Profiting form children: a child care social impact bond in Chicago

https://cupe.ca/profiting-children-child-care-social-impact-bond-chicago

CUPE Table Talk: Social Impact Bonds: The next horizon of provatization

https://cupe.ca/social-impact-bonds-next-horizon-privatization

CUPE Economy at Work: Economics 101 – Decoding Social Impact Bonds

https://cupe.ca/economics-101-decoding-social-impact-bonds

Pallister government passes reckless legislation – CUPE

Winnipeg – With the conclusion of the 41st Legislature, the Pallister government is willfully passing legislation that will disrupt health care, hurt working families, and will leave Manitobans with more questions than answers, says CUPE Manitoba.

“Pallister’s government is willfully passing irresponsible and ill-conceived legislation that leaves more questions than answers,” says Terry Egan, President of CUPE Manitoba.

Terry Egan, CUPE Manitoba President

“This whole session the government has acted like amateurs by tabling ill-conceived legislation, and Manitobans will suffer because of it”.

In a sitting that lasted past 3 am, the government passed legislation including Bill 28 (Public Services Sustainability Act) which imposes wage freezes on public sector workers, Bill 29 (Health Sector Bargaining Unit Review Act) which forces union representation votes in health care, and Bill 19 (Efficiency Manitoba Act) which carves PowerSmart out of Manitoba Hydro, among other legislation.

“Is Bill 28 constitutional? Is Bill 29 necessary? Is Bill 19 really efficient? We believe the answer to these questions is ‘no’,” said Egan.

“Rather than discussing these issues with workers, this government has neglected it’s responsibility to negotiate, and has instead opted to push through reckless legislation just for the sake of pushing it through.”

CUPE, along with the Manitoba Federation of Labour has expressed numerous concerns that Bill 29 will unnecessarily disrupt health care services, and that Bill 28 is unconstitutional because the government refused to meaningfully negotiate at the bargaining table.

Bill 19 was filibustered by a Conservative MLA who, along with CUPE and Opposition parties raised concerns that the legislation was unnecessary.

The government also made sweeping changes to health care, including mandating significant cuts, closing ERs and other programs, cancelling important community funding, and more.

“The government uses their majority to pass all their legislation no matter what people say, but they should never forget that the people are watching, and we’re taking notes,” said Egan.

“We’re putting this government on notice that if they continue on this path of cuts, reckless lawmaking, and lack of respect for dialogue, then they’ll have more trouble down the road”.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees is Canada’s largest union representing over 643,000 members.

In Manitoba, CUPE represents approximately 25,000 members working in health care facilities, personal care homes, school divisions, municipal services, social services, child care centres, public utilities, libraries and family emergency services.

CUPE 998 Opposed to Bill 19

Winnipeg – CUPE Local 998 (representing workers at Manitoba Hydro, including in the PowerSmart program) will be on-site to voice opposition at the Legislative Committee hearings on Bill 19 tonight.

Bill 19 (Efficiency Manitoba Act) seeks to carve out the PowerSmart program from Manitoba Hydro and establish a separate energy efficiency crown corporation.

“PowerSmart is an important program housed in Manitoba Hydro that helps Manitobans achieve energy efficiency targets and savings,” says Chris Mravinec, President of CUPE 998.

“It makes no sense to divorce our public energy efficiency program from our public hydro”.

The government re-scheduled committee hearings to tonight at 6pm, after failing to pass committee hearings on May 11 following numerous presentations, including from CUPE 998, and an hours-long filibuster by Conservative MLA Steven Fletcher.

“We hope the government comes to its senses on Bill 19 in ‘round-two’ of committee hearings”, says Mravinec.

CUPE Local 998 launched an online petition that has garnered over 300 signatures and numerous comments since it was launched on May 17.

For more information contact:

(204) 391-7939 Chris Mravinec, President CUPE 998

(204) 801-7339 David Jacks, CUPE Communications

Pallister’s P3 schools plan lacks transparency, accountability

Today Premier Brian Pallister announced the construction of four new schools in Manitoba to be designed, built, financed and maintained through a Public-Private Partnership (P3) model.

“Pallister isn’t telling the whole story when he tries to pitch P3s to Manitobans,” says Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “P3s in other jurisdictions have cost more in the long-run, with less accountability over taxpayers dollars”.

The Auditor General of both Nova Scotia and Alberta have raised serious concerns with the use of P3s in education in those two provinces, citing excessive costs, failure to meet contract requirements, lack of transparency, and insufficient proof that the projects provided value for money.

“There is an over twenty-year history of P3 schools in Canada. P3 schools are not new, are not innovative, and have not been successful,” said Moist. “Premier Pallister should learn from the mistakes of Nova Scotia and Alberta and stay clear of this disastrous policy.”

“Pallister’s plan to introduce a finance-maintain P3 model doesn’t make financial sense, as government can borrow at lower interest rates than private companies,” said Moist. “P3s will also cut corners to save money for themselves at the expense of the infrastructure they are conveniently paid to maintain”.

P3 schools under this model can be trapped in 30-year maintenance contracts with private conglomerates making it difficult for schools themselves to operate efficiently. These contracts are often hidden from the public as “proprietary” property of private companies.

Pallister’s plan also includes hiring “an advisor” to determine whether building design-build-finance P3 schools will be more cost-effective than the traditional design-build model. However, whether the public will have any way to review the advice provided by this “advisor”, or whether this “advisor” will be an independent third-party is yet to be seen.

The Pallister government recently introduced legislation to repeal the province’s P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation, claiming it was “red tape” for private corporations to access public dollars. Aspects of this legislation include the requirement for an independent, arms-length body to perform a publicly reviewable value for money review.

“If the Pallister government truly supported a value for money review, and believed in transparency and accountability as he campaigned upon, he would not be moving ahead to scrap the P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation,” said Moist. “If ever there was a time for robust legislation around P3’s, it would be when the province is considering greater reliance on the P3 model.”

“We believe every taxpayer’s dollar that this government spends should be transparent and accountable,” said Moist. “Scrapping P3 transparency legislation and then building four P3s makes it pretty clear that Pallister is in this for business interests rather than public interests.

Experience from other jurisdictions:

Nova Scotia Buys 2 P3 Schools for $12.9m

Alberta government scraps P3 funding model for new schools

Province Abandoning P3 Model for 19 New Alberta Schools

Nova Scotia government to buy 12 P3 schools for nearly $86M

P3 School Projects Blasted by AG Report

CUPE Saskatchewan Fact Sheet on P3 Schools

Case Study: P3 Schools in Alberta

 

Manitoba budget leaves doors wide open for privatization

Winnipeg – CUPE Manitoba is concerned that the provincial budget announced today leaves the door open for the unchecked privatization of public services and programs, while eroding existing public services.

The government recently announced that current P3 Accountability and Transparency legislation will be eliminated, and echoed this move in today’s budget.

CUPE MB President Kelly Moist speaking to the Canadian Press at the 2017 budget scrum

“This government insists that public transparency and accountability is a ‘regulatory burden’”, said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “We believe the public has the right to know the details of private contracts that are receiving public dollars”.

The budget’s language of “new”, “innovative”, and “collaborative” approaches to the government’s long-term care investments is also concerning, considering this language is often double-speak for privatization.

“The province must invest in more public personal care home spaces and reject for-profit beds,” said Moist. “As more and more Manitobans move into personal care homes, we need to ensure a strong, fully public system is available to them so dollars go directly to the care Manitobans deserve, instead of private profit.”

There is no clear commitment that the 501 new childcare spaces announced in the budget will be fully public.

CUPE is also concerned with the continued emphasis on Social Impact Bonds as a medium to deliver public social services and programs.

“While the budget references a ‘Made in Manitoba’ Social Impact Bond program, there is very little detail in what programs and services will be affected,” said Moist. “We are pleased however that the government is interested in supporting community Social Enterprises, and hope the government continues to support community-led initiatives and leaves private for-profit corporations out of it”.

“The government has already broken it’s promise to protect public services and the workers who provide them by closing ERs, laying off hundreds of Hydro workers, and imposing wage freezes on workers province-wide” says Moist. “We need to strengthen – not cut or privatize – our programs and services and this budget does not give us much confidence”.

Accountability and Transparency for P3 privatization model is not “red tape”, it’s an essential public protection

CUPE MB: Pallister’s proposal to repeal P3 Legislation is a step backwards

Basic public consultations, accountability and transparency are needed, not “red tape”

Winnipeg – The Canadian Union of Public Employees Manitoba has serious concerns about legislation introduced today by the Pallister government to repeal a law that provides basic measures for accountability and transparency when it comes to public-private partnerships.

Section 14 of the Pallister government’s Bill 24- The Red Tape Reduction and Government Efficiency Act proposes to eliminate the existing Public-Private Partnerships Transparency and Accountability Act, in its entirety.

The P3 Transparency and Accountability Act contains basic but essential protections for public investments and access to services,” said Kelly Moist, President of CUPE Manitoba. “How can Premier Pallister call the P3 Act “red tape”? It provides minimum provisions for a fair process on P3 projects, most of which involve tens or hundreds of millions of dollars and long-term contracts.”

“P3 projects are controversial for a reason,” added Moist. “These projects often take public funds and oversight and turn them over to a for-profit entity. Why would any government want to repeal a law that protects the public interest and public funds?”

CUPE has raised concerns in the past about P3s. The existing legislation only provides basic protections and access to information. In one case in Portage la Prairie, for example, CUPE raised concerns that a wastewater treatment plant renovation and expansion worth hundreds of millions of dollars would cost the public more through a P3, key financial information was not made available to the public, and there was no serious effort to engage in public consultations. CUPE is concerned that P3 projects routinely have poor results on every measure of public interest, from quality of service to timelines and cost.

“The people of Manitoba have always been on the hook for any problems resulting from using the P3 model for public projects. If the P3 Act is eliminated, we will be on the hook and blindfolded,” concluded Moist.

“If Premier Pallister wants to show Manitobans he is committed to his promise to protect public services, he will cancel his plans to repeal The P3 Transparency and Accountability Act, and strengthen it instead.”

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