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Sole-sourced P3s set to cost parents, students & taxpayers

EDMONTON, AB (November 21, 2013): The sole-sourced P3 deal announced yesterday to build 19 new schools across Alberta is a reckless and fiscally irresponsible decision that could jeopardize the completion of the projects, the Wildrose Official Opposition said today.

In Question Period, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith questioned Premier Alison Redford on why the PC government continues to rely on sole-sourced and untendered contacts to build much-needed infrastructure.  “These bulk P3 projects are too large to attract competitive bids and are not the way to get taxpayers the best deal,” Smith said. “Open and competitive bidding on individual projects is the only way to build what we need responsibly, on time and on budget.”  Smith also said Redford is hiding debt and exposing taxpayers to greater risk by building multiple schools with a P3 agreement in which the private partner assumes the debt load and collects from government to pay it back.  “Alberta taxpayers are going to end up paying much more for these projects because they are debt financed by private companies,” Smith said. “All around, these types of deals are absolutely the wrong way to go.”  Also in Question Period, Wildrose Education Critic Bruce McAllister asked Education Minister Jeff Johnson if the delays in school construction will compromise Redford’s 2012 election promise to build 50 new schools and renovate 70 schools in this term. He asked how many of these promised projects are currently under construction. Johnson did not answer.  “The Premier made a fairly black and white promise during the election to build 50 new schools before the 2016 election,” McAllister said. “These delays certainly appear to indicate that this promise is going to join the long list of other broken promises from this Premier.”  Earlier this week, Wildrose Transportation and Infrastructure Critic Drew Barnes released A Better Way To Build Alberta, a report with his recommendations on improving how infrastructure is built in Alberta.  In addition to a public infrastructure priority list, the report recommends ending the practice of debt financing P3s, using design-build procurement when the size and nature of the project warrants, and returning to traditional design-bid-build procurements on projects below a certain threshold.