Public Private Partnerships

Publication, Water, Peter McCaffrey, Steve Lafleur


On 25th of September, the citizens of Regina will vote in a referendum for the first time in 20 years. The question? Whether the city should use a traditional contract to construct a new wastewater treatment plant or to proceed with the council’s unanimously preferred option of a public private partnership (P3).

This backgrounder presents an overview of what exactly a public private partnership is, and an analysis of existing research into why they work.

Although P3s are portrayed by opponents as controversial, they are widely supported by relevant stakeholder groups. The one notable exception is labour funded organizations. But like farmer lobbies or military contractors, we should expect them to oppose initiatives that could in any way diminish their own revenue.

In this backgrounder, we demonstrate that these kinds of partnerships are not new or controversial by showing just how common public-private partnerships are across Canada and around the world.

Moreover, we illustrate that rather than being a financial risk, public-private partnerships actually function as a type of insurance against the risks of cost-overruns and delays.

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