CUPE Nova Scotia released several recommendations to government this week, calling for transparency and accountability legislation to govern public-private partnerships. The recommendations are based on research and discussion coming out of a panel discussion on P3s and transparency held in Halifax on November 13, 2018.
“We need to stop the drain on our finances, and one of the first steps we can take is to legislate disclosure in reporting how our money is spent,” says CUPE Nova Scotia President Nan McFadgen. “There should be no secrets when public money is spent on public infrastructure and services.”
The recommendations call for a fully transparent process and a full costing against a public sector option before a P3 project can go ahead.
CUPE also recommends that the Auditor General be given access to all P3 documents and records, and be allowed to examine the methodology behind the choosing of a P3 model.
CUPE is further calling for transparent disclosure and reporting standards for all public or private operations that provide public services and receive public funding, regardless of their operational structure.
“Without checks and balances the government cannot be held to account for its spending decisions,” says McFadgen. “We only have to look at the recent buy-out of school leases to see the cost to the province of secret deals. The hundreds of thousands of dollars in over spending could have been put to use in health care, education or on more kilometres of safe highways.”
Highlights of CUPE NS Panel Discussion:
Transparency and the right to know how our money is spent
CUPE Nova Scotia is calling for transparency and accountability legislation to govern the disclosure and reporting of public-private partnerships. The following recommendations to government are based on research and discussion coming out of a symposium on P3s and transparency held in Halifax on November 13, 2018.
- Transparency and accountability legislation must require a public sector comparator— P3s should be costed against a public sector option.
- Nova Scotians deserve a full study of expected risks, costs, and benefits of using a P3 versus a traditional model of public finance, operation and maintenance.
- The public must be able to access all relevant documents and information related to a P3 project.
- Operating and maintenance payments, as well as any other payments, or minimum revenue guarantees, should be required to be itemized.
- The Auditor General must be entitled to access all documents and records of the P3, all reports commissioned and all recommendations.
- The Auditor General must be able to examine the methodology – the reasoning – behind the choice of a P3 project and make sure that it stands the test versus a traditional public sector option.
- The Auditor General should have full proactive disclosure of all business case documents, successful and unsuccessful bids, and records of evaluation of bids and contracts.
- The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner must be given the power to access information which has gone before cabinet or cabinet committees, and to rule on whether these documents should be released.
- Transparent disclosure and reporting standards should apply to all public or private operations that provide public services and receive public funding, regardless of their operational structure.
Without these checks and balances the government cannot be held to account for its spending decisions.