In a public-private partnership, or P3, a private, for-profit corporation assumes control over the design, construction, financing and operation of public infrastructure and services. P3s have been used in Canada since the early 1990s, but they are now so common that they have become the standard way in which multimillion-dollar projects and services are delivered across the country. There are now more than two hundred P3 projects in this country, with contract lengths from twenty to ninety-nine years.
The problem? P3s fundamentally transform public infrastructure, public services, labour relations, public sectors and the everyday lives of Canadians. While contracting out services is supposed to save money, P3s often cost more in the long run and are host to poor working conditions and confidentiality and accountability issues. And in the end, it is us, the public, who foots the bill for these increasing costs, essentially subsidizing corporate investments for services that our governments used to provide.