Difficult questions have to be asked. Fortunately, we have a few of the answers in advance:
- Academic findings from Canada and around the world have long shown privatization through public-private partnerships is risky, expensive and undemocratic, as well as lacking in proper oversight and independent, unbiased assessment.
- A recent study found that privatization led to “poor performance, under-investment, disputes over operational costs and price increases, soaring water bills, monitoring difficulties, lack of financial transparency, workforce cuts and poor service quality.”
- Global trends are moving towards re-municipalization, with socially responsible and sustainable approaches. In the last 15 years, 235 private water contracts in 37 countries were terminated.
- In Hamilton, Ontario (pop. 800,000), ending a public-private partnership contract for the city’s water and wastewater operations saved the city $5.7 million over three years and improved the plant’s performance and treatment standards.
For these reasons, it’s clear that a public-private partnerships are not the right answer here.
That means the right answer is still out there. We want to find it. And we’re not afraid to sacrifice for it. But we don’t see much sense in sacrificing for an idea that’s been proven not to work.
But putting aside all that evidence:
- An accessible public service improves quality of life, increases equality, promotes good health and fosters collective prosperity.
- An affordable public service helps everyone participate in and contribute to their communities.
- An accountable public service protects democracy, creates economic and social wealth and is key to environmental sustainability.
So, what do you think needs to happen? Tell us how we might be able to save some budget and keep the “feel of Calgary” that’s been here since 1875.