Ontario audits P3 hospital costs -- why not B.C.?
On Monday, the Ontario auditor general released a value-for-money report on a controversial hospital that was built using private finance as a so-called public-private partnership. It's a model for providing public infrastructure favoured by the B.C. Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell.
Brampton Civic Hospital, the first hospital in Ontario constructed using a public-private financing program, could have been built cheaper under the traditional public model, concludes a probe by the provincial auditor general.
Jim McCarter released the findings of an investigation into the private sector’s involvement in erecting BCH and how the hospital will be financed over 25 years.
B.C.'s first P3 hospital -- the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre -- opened its doors just a few months ago. B.C.'s largest health care union today said that the costs of building the Abbotsford facility should also be put under the microscope by the province's own auditor general.
Up until now, value-for-money assessments have been left to the government agency that promotes P3s, a situation that has B.C.'s Hospital Employees' Union crying foul.
In B.C., the provincial government has placed its privatization agency – Partnerships BC – in charge of value-for-money audits of P3s, a practice that has been widely criticized.
Now that the construction of the Abbotsford hospital is complete, HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy says British Columbians are owed an independent audit of its costs.
“It’s not good enough for Partnerships BC to audit its own performance,” says Darcy. “That’s like putting the wolf in charge of the sheep.
“British Columbians deserve the same care and attention to their public finances as Ontarians,” adds Darcy. “Citizens deserve to know what services will be put at risk because of this government’s blind faith in the banks and corporations they put in charge of this project.”
Darcy notes that capital costs for the Abbotsford hospital P3 rose from $211 million to $355 million and that the annual service payments due to the private consortium that financed the hospital doubled to more than $40 million. There was only one bidder on the project.