Ontario Electricity VII – Committee Testimony

The PC Government in Ontario has introduced Bill 87 which would eliminate the rate-based borrowing to subsidize electricity prices and replace it with Government borrowing. Last week’s Provincial Budget estimates that the required borrowing to subsidize electricity prices for 2018/19 was $2.8 billion. It is likely to exceed $3 billion in 2019/20. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in North America […]

Read more

Ontario’s Electricity Sector IV: Pre-Election Update

My first, second and third posts on the Ontario electricity sector described how policy and administrative decisions by different Liberal Governments gave rise to excess electricity generation with an inflated cost structure, leading to higher electricity prices. In anticipation of June 2018 elections, the Liberal Government recently implemented a costly and first-in-Canada financial scheme to fund its “Fair Hydro Plan” […]

Read more

Balanced Budget Myopia Breaks Both Ways

Opinions on deficit budgeting have become a short-hand litmus test in Canadian politics. Deficits are left-wing and balanced budgets are right-wing austerity.  Economists know that there is virtually no difference between a small surplus and a small deficit, but politicians and voters are a different story. I have spent the past three and half years railing against premature Conservative budgetary tightening, […]

Read more

The Ontario Auditor’s damning report on P3s

The Ontario Auditor General’s 2014 Report includes a chapter on Infrastructure Ontario’s P3 program that is particularly damning–and corresponds with many of the criticisms made on this blog and elsewhere by myself and others. While the headlines were that P3 projects cost the province an additional $8 billion than if they were procured traditionally, the report documents numerous other problems […]

Read more

Rental Housing in Yellowknife

Yesterday I blogged about rental housing in Yellowknife, over at the Northern Public Affairs web site.  Specifically, I blogged about a recent announcement by the city’s largest for-profit landlord that it plans to “tighten” its policies vis-a-vis renting to recipients of “income assistance” (which, in most parts of Canada, is known generically as social assistance).  Among other things, I suggest […]

Read more

More on the At Home/Chez Soi Study

Earlier this month, I blogged about the At Home/Chez Soi homelessness study prior to the release of its final report. Today I’ve blogged again, this time about the contents of the final report itself.  This second blog post, being rather long and nuanced, was written for the Homeless Hub.  It can be accessed at this link. Nick FalvoNick Falvo is […]

Read more

Regina’s P3 Columnists

As the referendum on whether to privatize Regina’s wastewater plant nears, the Regina Leader-Post is printing a column a day advocating the P3: John Gormley on Friday, Bruce Johnstone on Saturday, and Murray Mandryk today. Johnstone and Mandryk repeat three of the City’s key claims. Gormley only gets to one of these claims because he mostly just attacks the messenger, […]

Read more

What’s the real risk and cost for Regina’s wastewater P3?

The City of Regina is engaged in a controversial debate about a proposed public private partnership (P3) for the city’s wastewater plant. Residents formed a Regina Water Watch group to keep the facility public.  They collected enough names to take the issue to a municipal referendum on September 25th, despite attempts by the city to disallow signatures on spurious grounds.   […]

Read more

Who really bears the risk for P3s?

Canada is now the second biggest market for public private partnerships (P3s) in the world, as a recent Conference Board report showed (on page 30, see my initial critique here). P3s are big business: Canadian governments closed deals on a reported $7 billion in P3 contracts in both 2010 and 2011.  This was the highest in the world in 2010 […]

Read more

P3 or No Federal Funding: A Third Option for Regina Wastewater?

The Queen City’s water debate has boiled over since I last blogged about it. City Council decided to build a new wastewater-treatment facility as a public-private partnership (P3), but a group of concerned citizens gathered 24,000 signatures to force a referendum on whether to “publicly finance, operate and maintain the new wastewater treatment plant for Regina.” There has been much […]

Read more

Blissful Ignorance: another Conference Board report on P3s

The Conference Board of Canada has produced another report on P3s, funded by the federal and provincial P3 agencies and the Canadian Council for Public Private Partnerships (CCPPP). Unfortunately and sadly predictably, it’s another exercise in largely blissful ignorance promoting P3s, while glossing over or ignoring their major problems. For instance, there’s no mention of the problems with the McGill […]

Read more

Regina Hosed by P3 Waste Water

Regina City Council has voted to proceed with a 30-year public-private partnership (P3) in which a private company would design, build, finance, operate and maintain the city’s new waste water treatment facility. The municipal administration’s rationale has been that, although a P3 will be more expensive than traditional public financing, it is required to access federal money from the P3 […]

Read more

When a University Recruits Abroad, Who’s in Charge?

A few years ago, I wrote an opinion piece on “pathway colleges”—i.e. private companies that recruit students from other countries and then ‘bridge’ them into Canadian universities by providing pre-university courses, including English as a Second Language. A recent CBC News article  underlines how perilous such recruitment of post-secondary students from abroad can be, and why it is important that lines of accountability be […]

Read more

The Privatization of Social Housing

Last weekend, I spoke on a panel at the Annual Conference of the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association.  The panel was inspired in large part by the recent debate in Toronto over Mayor Rob Ford’s attempt to sell social housing units to private buyers.  The panel, entitled “To Privatize or Not to Privatize? That is the question,” included myself, Vince Brescia […]

Read more

Quebec Tuition Fees

In light of plans by the Charest government to increase tuition fees in Quebec by 75 percent over the next five years, Eric Martin and Simon Tremblay-Pepin have written a recent article on Quebec tuition fees. The article points out the following: -Though tuition fees in Quebec have been lower than in most other parts of Canada, this has come with […]

Read more

Tuition Increases by Stealth

On Tuesday night, Peterborough City Council approved a plan for a for-profit corporation to own and operate a new student residence at Trent University.  I’m concerned that this may signal a new trend at Canadian universities; about a year ago, I blogged about a similar plan at the University of Toronto. I am not opposed to private sector actors being […]

Read more

Why we need public spending

David Hall at the University of Greenwich in the U.K. recently produced a really good report on Why we need public spending.  It’s over 70 pages in length, is well-written, has a great deal of really useful material from around the world (including charts and graphics and extensive references) making the argument for why public spending is so important from an […]

Read more

P3 and Immigration Law in Arizona – “Both” Sides Win?

NPR has just published a very nice piece of investigative journalism about the role of the private prisons industry in influencing immigration law in Arizona. The new law, passed last spring, extends the power (and responsibilities) of police officers to scrutinize immigrants, essentially allowing policemen to stop anybody they deem suspicious and ask them for immigration documents. People found without […]

Read more

University Recruitment of International Students

Last month, I blogged about “pathway colleges,” which are private companies that have been entering into P3 arrangements with Canadian universities in recent years.  The private company helps recruit international students and then gives the students pre-university training.  If all goes according to plan, the students in question eventually become full-fledged students at the university in question.   There’s been increased attention to […]

Read more

Pathway Colleges: A New Kind of P3

I have an opinion piece out on “pathway colleges,” a relatively new phenomenon in Canada.  In this public-private partnership (P3) model, private companies recruit international students to Canadian university campuses, targeting students who currently do not meet the university’s admissions criteria (usually because they lack the necessary English-language skills).  Once the students arrive in Canada, the company hires instructors (paying them considerably less […]

Read more

“Teaming Up” with the Private Sector

Today’s Globe and Mail features an article about the University of Toronto’s plan to turn “to the private sector to solve their campus housing problems” for students.  In particular, the article refers to a plan whereby the U of T would become “the first university in Canada to erect a large tower offsite with private money.” According to the article, […]

Read more

Can P3s work?

Two weeks ago I wrote a critique of a very poorly done Conference Board of Canada report on P3s (public-private partnerships).    This conference board study ignored recent major criticisms by provincial auditors general and interviewed almost exclusively P3 proponents. I’m happy to say that two business professors from B.C., Aidan Vining of SFU and Anthony Boardman of UBC,  have recently written an […]

Read more

The Conference Board on P3s: more myths

The Conference Board of Canada published a report late last month, Dispelling the Myths, which purports to show that public-private partnerships (P3s) have delivered major efficiency gains for the public sector, a high degree of cost certainty, and greater transparency than conventional procurement. While the report maintains it provides an impartial assessment of the benefits and drawbacks of using P3s, it is […]

Read more

Is the stimulus killing the P3 model?

While BC has not formally abandoned the P3 model, there is a notable absence of new P3 announcements at a time when billions of dollars are being channeled to infrastructure spending. If P3s really provided value for money and brought the benefits of private sector efficiency and innovation to the delivery of public-sector infrastructure, then why aren’t we seeing more […]

Read more

More absurdity with P3s

Last week, the British Columbia government announced that its $2.5 billion public-private partnership (P3) deal for the Port Mann bridge expansion had failed and that it would now finance the project directly instead.   Despite the failure of the P3 financier, Macquarie, to put together a deal the Province is still going to pay them for financial advisory services, which […]

Read more

The utter stupidity of P3s in BC

For the “we told you so” file. The BC government has been insisting on P3s (so-called “public-private partnerships” where the private sector builds and operates infrastructure) all over the province. We at the CCPA have consistently argued that this practice is foolish: more complicated, more expensive, and leaving taxpayers holding the bag if anything bad should happen. As a companion […]

Read more

CanWest takes on P3s

The existing pot of infrastructure money offered up by the feds in last year’s federal budget has been criticized for being contingent on a P3 model, aka public private partnership, where design, build and subsequent operation of infrastructure was undertaken by the private sector, and leased back to the public sector over the lifetime of the asset. P3s have been […]

Read more