Public Service, Private Profits

The Political Economy of Public-Private Partnerships in Canada

By John Loxley and Salim Loxley  

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PPPs/P3s have become all the rage amongst every level of government in Canada in recent years. Proponents claim P3s reduce the costs of building and operating public projects and services,that projects and services are delivered more efficiently through the P3 model, so that in the end taxpayers are better off economically and as consumers of public goods. This book tests all of these claims, and more, finding them mostly empty, ideological assertions. Through an exhaustive series of case studies of P3s in Canada – from schools, bridges and water treatment plants to social services and hospital food – this book finds that most P3s are more costly to build and finance, provide poorer quality services and are less accessible than if they were built and operated by public servants. Moreover, many essential services are less accountable to citizens when private corporations are involved.

“One frightening consequence of the global financial crisis of 2008-09 is the renewed effort by private investors to force the privatization of public assets. And their tool of choice has become the public-private partnership. In this devastating and incredibly timely critique, John Loxley exposes P3s for what they are: a phony fiscal shell game that enriches investors at our expense. This book is an essential tool in the ongoing struggle to preserve the public good.”

— Jim Stanford, Economist, Canadian Auto Workers

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  • What Are Public-Private Partnerships?
  • Economics and Financing
  • Public Policy
  • Value for Money and Public Sector Comparators
  • Schools, Social Services, Hospitals and Hospital Services
  • Bridges, Roads and Water and Waste Treatment
  • Public Spending for Private Profit
  • Appendices
  • References
  • Index


  • John Loxley

    University of Manitoba

    John Loxley is professor of economics at the University of Manitoba and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has served as an economic advisor to the governments of Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Mozambique and Manitoba, and the incoming government of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, as well as a number of international institutions.

  • Salim Loxley

    Salim Loxley is a graduate of the University of Manitoba and has pursued post-graduate studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) and the London School of Economics. He has examined Canadian P3s for many years and is currently working as a consultant in London, England.

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