Thursday, 18 June 2009

Using Private Public Partnerships Update: Building Hospital the Conventional Way Would Save Time, Architects Say

It was a bad idea to begin with, and maybe the truth is beginning to dawn on those who were ideologically in favour of Public Private Partnerships. Quebec’s Premier Jean Charest—who was, never forget, briefly leader of the Progressive Conservatives after he spent years as one of Brian Mulroney’s right hand men—was all for PPPs for highway and hospital construction. So were many of his most influential cabinet ministers. But the dismal record of PPPs—cost over-runs, long start-up times, and threatened bankruptcy of private partners—appear to be making even the blind see.

In the case of Francophone super hospital, two architects’ groups say that the agency supposed to coordinate the PPP is not well-organized, and waiting for it to receive bids from consortiums on how to manage the project is wasting time. Better to use the plans drawn up in consultation with the medical staff involved and go directly to bids on elements of the construction of the project. This method was used productively in the past for the construction of airports and university buildings in the past: the projects came in on time and under budget, André Bourassa, president of the Ordre des architectes, told Le Devoir.

Minister of Health Yves Bolduc admitted Tuesday that PPPs aren’t the “religion” of the Charest Liberals.

The rebuilding of a major highway interchange is also supposed to be undertaken by a PPP, but both the competence of the PPP agency to direct such a project as well as questions that of the companies who might bid to become the constructing consortium have recently come into question.

Not a minute too soon, if you ask me. Setting up PPPs only opens the door for more profit-taking by the companies involved. We don’t need that, particularly in these times when the defects of right wing economics have sadly affected us all.

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