Tag Archives: Canada

Taxpayers Dinged for a Thousand $1,000 Phone Calls Payments to private contractor

Source: Andrew MacLeod, Today, TheTyee.ca, January 15, 2014

For each phone call a private company handled regarding a 2012 Ministry of Health privacy breach, British Columbia taxpayers paid what amounted to $950. That $1.1 million expense to prepare for and field 1,136 phone calls was part of a contract with Maximus B.C. Health Inc. to manage and administer the province’s Medical Services Plan and PharmaCare programs. The thousand-dollar phone calls were only part of the contract, which has grown greatly since it was signed in 2004. …

…The original 10-year contract, signed at a time when the then three-year-old BC Liberal government was pushing to contract out and privatize more public services, was for $324 million, or about $32 million per year. However, payments to Maximus, whose slogan is “Helping government serve the people,” reached more than double that last fiscal year, coming in at $64.8 million in 2012-2013….

Update: Arrest of driver for impaired horrifying: school board

Source: Telegram, December 4, 2013

School board CEO Darrin Pike is horrified and upset over an incident this morning in which a school bus driver is alleged to have been impaired, compromising the safety of children. … Police received an anonymous tip just before 8 a.m. about a possible impaired school bus driver in the area of Old Bay Bulls Road. A 71-year-old man has been charged with impaired driving and operation of a motor vehicle with over 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood. … The driver is employed by City Wide, a private contractor, and it is believed he has been a driver for a number of years, Pike said. While his future employment as any kind of driver is up to City Wide, he has been suspended from school bus routes, Pike said. ….

Privatization of long-term care a flawed policy, report says

Source: CBC News, November 6, 2013

A new report by the Parkland Institute calls on the Alberta government to reverse its policy of allowing for-profit companies to run the province’s long-term care homes. “From Bad to Worse: Residential elder care in Alberta” found that these facilities are understaffed by 90 minutes of care per resident each day…. Stunden Bower says the Alberta government should mandate increased staffing levels in for-profit facilities, and join other provinces in pushing Ottawa to publicly fund long-term care for seniors….
From Bad to Worse: Residential elder care in Alberta
Source: Shannon Stunden Bower, David Campanella, Parkland Institute, November 6, 2013
Press Release

P3s are ‘bad business’

Source: Larry Hubich, Regina Leader-Post, October 28, 2013

Among the many issues addressed in the provincial government’s recent throne speech was building new schools in our province using a P3 privatization model. But what do P3s mean for us? Sometimes misleadingly called public-private partnerships, P3 privatization deals involve signing complicated contracts with construction and supply companies, where the companies construct and operate buildings and then lease them back to the government. Of course, companies only agree to participate in projects that are profitable, and corporate profits add significantly to the cost of construction. Instead of simply paying for construction, taxpayers are forced to pay for construction and corporate profit.

In Alberta, a number of P3 schools have been constructed since 2007. Before the projects even began, early estimates were that P3 privatized schools would cost 51 per cent more than publicly-built and operated schools. In 2007 alone, the budget for the P3 schools project rose from $200 million to $512 million. Three schools could have been built using conventional government construction deals for every two schools that were built under the P3 privatization scheme.

What’s worse, cost-cutting measures at one school, including the use of substandard roofing materials, caused the roof to leak only six months after it opened….

Hospital cleaning staff reach deal with Metro Vancouver health authorities

Source: Vancouver Sun, October 2, 2013

The Hospital Employees’ Union has reached a tentative deal with a U.S.-based company that employs nearly 1,300 hospital cleaning staff working in Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health hospitals and extended care facilities.

The four-year deal was reached with Aramark late Tuesday in Burnaby with the assistance of mediator Vince Ready, said union spokesman Neil Monckton.

Talks resumed Monday just days after HEU members delivered a 97 per cent strike mandate to their bargaining committee.

HEU secretary-business manager Bonnie Pearson said, in a statement Wednesday, that the agreement includes significant improvements in benefits and overtime plus a modest wage boost….

Prison Privatization: Canada Mulls Contracting Services To Companies Lobbying For Correctional Work

Source: Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post Canada, July 13, 2013

Faced with lawsuits and bad publicity in their home country, U.S. private prison corporations are lobbying to enter Canada — and the Canadian government is considering allowing them, news reports indicate. According to federal government documents obtained by Bloomberg News, the Correctional Service of Canada “may consider” contracting out certain prison services, such as cleaning and food preparation…

The Guardian reports that among the companies lobbying Ottawa for a piece of the prison action is Geo Group, a Florida-based corporation whose lobbyist met with Toews last year. … A federal judge described the Geo Group prison as “a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts.”…

…The other prison company confirmed by The Guardian to be lobbying Ottawa is Management and Training Corporation (MTC), which has had its own share of controversies. Following the escape of two convicted murderers from a Kingman, Arizona MTC facility, the the state of Arizona found the facility’s alarms were not functioning properly, and the company hadn’t carried out maintenance on them in more than a year. MTC’s marketing director, Mike Murphy, confirmed to the Guardian the company is interested in Canada. …

…Canada’s experience with private prisons so far has been limited and underwhelming. The country’s only existing private prison — the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, Ontario — had been set up by the province’s Conservative government in the 1990s, and was taken over by the province under the Liberals in 2006. A performance review of the facility found that public prisons of the same size had better security, health care and recidivism rates than the MTC facility. For its part, Geo Group built the Miramichi Youth Detention Facility in New Brunswick, but had its contract for the facility taken away in the 1990s after public protests against the incarceration of youth for profit. The company still has a maintenance contract for the prison….

Library and Archives Canada private deal would take millions of documents out of public domain

Source: Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen, June 12, 2013

Library and Archives Canada has entered a hush-hush deal with a private high-tech consortium that would hand over exclusive rights to publicly owned books and artifacts for 10 years….Library and Archives Canada (LAC) staff and others told about the plan have had to sign non-disclosure clauses but it isn’t clear why the process has been wrapped in such a dark cloak of secrecy.

LAC is partnering with Canadiana.org in what is being billed as The Heritage Project — digitizing 40 million images from more than 800 collections of publicly-held LAC material, much bought by Library and Archives over the years with taxpayers’ money. The documents and images includes personal papers, census data, central registries, church records, and First Nations, government and military documents….

…Canadiana, which has data centres in Ottawa and Montreal, says it will fund the project over the long term by charging for the material it digitizes but, given the federal government’s $10 million cut to LAC’s budget, is clearly sensitive to potential criticism….The plan effectively means that Canadians will have to pay twice for timely access to material they already own, Deputy NDP heritage critic Andrew Cash told the Citizen Tuesday, shortly after raising the issue in Question Period with Heritage Minister James Moore….

Using Public-Private Partnerships to Improve Transportation Infrastructure in Canada

Source: Charles Lammam, Hugh MacIntyre, Joseph Berechman, Fraser Institute, May 2013

From the abstract:
There is general agreement among diverse groups and individuals that Canada’s transportation infrastructure desperately requires improvement. As governments move to confront this challenge, it is not enough that they simply commit to building more roads or bridges; the infrastructure must be built on time and on budget, be of high quality, and be well-maintained.

The conventional way for providing transportation infrastructure involves the government hiring a firm to build the facility based on a prescriptive design. The government then takes responsibility for operating and maintaining the facility and perhaps outsources some aspects of care to private companies. With a history of construction-cost overruns and time delays as well as other notable problems, the conventional process has not served Canadians well.

Public Private Partnerships (P3s or PPPs) are an alternative to the conventional process. P3s capture benefits of the marketplace while achieving the government’s goals for public infrastructure. This report examines the potential improvements P3s can bring to Canada’s transportation infrastructure. At the outset, it is important to note that, while P3s offer several advantages over the usual process, they may not be well suited for every transportation project. Put plainly, P3s are an important option in the government’s tool kit and should be given consideration when appropriate.

Privatization and Protest: Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Toronto, and the Occupation of Public Space in a Democracy

Source: Margaret Kohn, Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 11 no. 1, March 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This article examines the legal and normative debates about the Occupy Toronto movement in order to illuminate the issues raised by Occupy Wall Street. It challenges the view that the occupation of parks and plazas was an illegitimate privatization of public space. In both New York City and Toronto, the courts relied on a theory that Habermas called “German Hobbesianism.” This sovereigntist theory of the public was used to justify removing the protesters and disbanding the encampments. The alternative is what I call the populist model of the public, a term which describes the political mobilization of the people outside the institutional structures of the state. While my focus is on public space, I suggest the appropriation of space was the most visible aspect of a broader call for collective control of the common wealth of society. In other words, we should understand the occupations synecdochally as struggles over the meaning and power of public and private.

Transportation Public-Private Partnerships: Challenges of Transparency and Accountability

Source: Wendell Carrier Lawther, PA Times, March 18, 2013

Many recent studies and reports identify a huge backlog of infrastructure projects that need to be completed in the United States. One example of this backlog is estimated by the American Civil Engineering Society who projects that three trillion dollars per year will be needed to fix all of the bridges and roadways, as well as build new, needed infrastructure to lessen traffic congestion and ease the movement of goods and people. The issue facing public policymakers is how to pay for these needs, especially at a time when the total debt of U.S. state and local governments is estimated at $7.3 trillion. Compounding the challenges is the still widely accepted feeling that “roads are free,” along with public recognition that congestion is a problem, but no alternative revenue source—e.g. gasoline tax, vehicle miles traveled tax, or tolls—to pay for solving this problem is widely accepted….