WINNIPEG — Manitoba’s largest union says it’s encouraged by the provincial government’s recent remarks against using the P3 model to build schools.
Premier Wab Kinew said Wednesday that the previous Progressive Conservative government didn’t set aside money for future school construction. Kinew accused the PCs of relying on a private-public funding model (P3), that would only end up costing the province more money down the road.
“The experience with P3s across Canada has been higher costs and no accountability to the public,” said Gina McKay, president of CUPE Manitoba. “The last government tried rushing P3s through, so we are glad to see Premier Kinew acknowledge that the former government’s ideological plan should be halted.”
CUPE says schools in Saskatchewan under the P3 model saw restrictions on what teachers could do in their classrooms, like putting art on the walls, and ended up costing four times more per school for maintenance than schools built the traditional way.
“I think anybody who is fiscally responsible would have some serious questions about why you would choose to use an approach that’s going to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in capital costs online in one year, rather than spreading it out over a multi-decade horizon,” Kinew told reporters.
CUPE Manitoba’s stance against P3 schools has been firm, including organizing public town halls in Brandon that resulted in the previous government withdrawing plans to build P3 schools in 2018.
“The last schools that were built in Manitoba were built the traditional way, without P3s, saving the province money and keeping our schools publicly owned and operated, so it only makes sense
to scrap P3s altogether,” McKay added.
Kinew said the NDP prefers the traditional construction model, which sees the government pay for the construction itself and amortize the capital costs over decades.
— With files from The Canadian Press