Public-private partnerships are once again drumming up fierce critique from Saskatchewan’s NDP.
While the party has been vocal in the past about its concerns with P3 projects, new concerns were raised during question period on Wednesday. Deputy Leader Trent Wotherspoon specifically asked about two projects and what the opposition is calling “astronomical” maintenance costs attached to them.
The NDP claim the SaskParty will pay more than $800 million in maintenance on the Regina Bypass and the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford.
“What a complete lack of common sense,” Wotherspoon said during QP.
On the $1.88 billion bypass, he outlined how $680 million will be used over 30 years to pay a company to mow grass, plow snow and fill potholes. On the $407 million hospital, Wotherspoon said $185 million over roughly the same time frame will be used on maintenance for that project.
“How could a brand new hospital possibly require so much maintenance that it nearly doubles the price?”
The NDP indicated how the entire annual repair and maintenance budget of the Prairie North Health Region is $4.6 million.
SaskBuilds Minister Gordon Wyant was quick to point out that the $680 million figure on the bypass is more than just for maintenance. He said it also includes long-term rehabilitation, financing costs and transfer of risk which accounts for project delays, bad weather and labour shortages. Planning costs are calculated in too, which includes lawyers, accountants, and cost estimators.
It’s a similar case for the hospital.
At the end of that 30 years, he said both projects will be like new.
However, when asked what maintenance alone will cost, Wyant couldn’t give an exact breakdown.
“That number isn’t broken out of the contract. There’s some items which are in that contract that are commercially sensitive and so those numbers aren’t broken out,” he explained.
The province says that within 120 days of any P3 contract being signed, the government will release a Value for Money analysis along with procurement documents. The province assures the public that will come on the bypass before the end of the year.