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Saint John water treatment

Federal government makes Saint John an offer it can’t refuse

Things looked bad for the plans to use a P3 privatization scheme for the new water treatment plant in Saint John, New Brunswick.

A poll showed 62% of Saint John residents opposed having a private company run their water treatment plant. Only 23% supported privatization of the water system.

But then the community found out what could happen if you reject privatization schemes that enjoy federal government protection. Like most communities, Saint John needed federal and provincial help for a big project like a water treatment plant. And the federal government made using a P3 privatization scheme a condition of federal funding.

Without the federal government P3 protection racket, it’s far from certain whether Saint John would have used a P3 privatization scheme for its new water treatment plant. In 2013 a former commissioner of Saint John Water predicted using a P3 would cost more.

As usual with privatization schemes, key details are being kept secret. With so much financial information kept hidden, it’s very hard to take serious any claim that P3 privatization schemes save money.

Even with the new federal government, the P3 protection racket is still in place. The 2015 announcement that the federal government was removing the P3 privatization scheme requirement for federal funding didn’t apply to PPP Canada, even though it is a federal crown corporation. So $1.25 billion in federal funding controlled by PPP Canada is still being used to pressure communities into using P3 privatization schemes.