BY KELLY LAPOINTE - The majority of Canadians are open to public-private partnerships (P3s) to build infrastructure and deliver public services, according to recent national and community surveys.
“These findings tell us that Canada’s two decades of experience in developing a best-in-class model of P3s is paying off,” said Mark Romoff, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships >(CCPPP), which commissioned the survey report.
“Canadians are seeing clear evidence that public-private partnerships provide the best value for money and make a real difference to their quality of life.”
There are currently 207 P3 projects across Canada, with a total value of those projects under construction or in operation exceeding $63 billion.
Sixty-two per cent of those surveyed indicated they are open to the use of P3s to deliver infrastructure and services.
Support is strongest in Québec (69 per cent) followed by the Prairies and Atlantic Canada.
Nationally, respondents said they support the use of P3s across key economic sectors, with transit systems (70 per cent), roads (65 per cent), social housing (64 per cent) and hospitals (63 per cent) receiving the strongest support.
“The majority of those surveyed are also open to extending these partnerships to deliver public services such as issuing ID cards, vehicle registration renewals, or administering programs. This bodes well for governments looking to new areas of alternative service delivery as a way to reduce costs and improve efficiencies,” stated the report.
A recent independent report commissioned by CCPPP showed that P3s have made major contributions to the country’s economy.
Based on a review of P3s in operation of under construction from 2003 to 2012, the report highlights economic impacts over the 10 years, including, 517,430 total full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, with 290,680 direct FTE jobs.
It also found there was $9.9 billion in cost savings and $7.5 billion in tax revenue to the government.
The community survey asked for residents’ views on P3 use in their local communities, focusing on the Disraeli Bridges project in Winnipeg, the Sault Area Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and the Greater Moncton Water Treatment Plant in Moncton, N.B.
All three projects received high marks for their perceived value to the community, though there was a wide variation in levels of awareness around the use of the P3 model in each of the communities.
Fifty-two per cent of those surveyed were aware the Sault Area Hospital used a P3 model, 26 per cent were aware for the Greater Moncton Water Treatment Plant and 20 per cent knew the Disraeli Bridges project was a P3.
“It is difficult to ascertain what may have caused the differences in awareness levels, but the size of Winnipeg compared to the other communities (i.e. more issues competing for residents’ attention in a larger city) and the age of the Greater Moncton Water Treatment Project (completed in 1999) may be contributing factors,” said the report.
The majority of respondents’ views did not change after learning these community projects were delivered through a P3.
They felt there was a need for the private-sector involvement in these projects.
When it came to the Sault Area Hospital, 70 per cent thought the project might not have been possible without the private sector.
That number was 69 per cent for respondents about the Greater Moncton Water Treatment Facility and 61 per cent for the Disraeli Bridges project.
Respondents in these three communities supported using P3s to deliver other community projects.
“This provides an incentive for governments, businesses and CCPPP to raise the profile of P3s across the country. With a strong track record of success and a reputation as a global leader, there are many Canadian stories about how P3s are providing innovative solutions to complex public needs,” said the report.
Announced in the 2014 federal budget, the New Building Canada Plan will require a P3 screen for projects with a total eligible costs of more than $100 million.
“P3 infrastructure projects in Canada have a solid track record of being delivered on time and on budget, and for this reason, in the New Building Canada Plan, our government will require the use of P3s for large infrastructure projects, where it makes sense, to provide better value for Canadian taxpayers,” said Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs Denis Lebel in the statement. “
I am pleased to learn that the CCPPP’s research shows that Canadians support the use of P3s to build infrastructure, and appreciate the benefits of this procurement approach,” .
A study by the Conference Board of Canada has found that P3s have a strong track record of being on time and on budget, with an average cost savings of 13 per cent compared to traditionally delivered projects. >>