CALGARY – The Chair of the Calgary Board of Education is misguided if she thinks privately owned buildings are the recipe for solving the shortage of schools.
That was the verdict of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, (CUPE) who opposes the provincial government’s plans to lease school buildings from the private sector.
Board Chairwoman Pat Cochrane was quoted in the media today saying, “I think P3s (public private partnerships) can work.”
“It’s never worked before, what makes her think it can work now?” asked CUPE Alberta President D’Arcy Lanovaz, saying examples in other provinces and studies have shown the P3 model to be a failure.
“Why would you rent a building when you could own it outright?” said Lanovaz. “Any homeowner will tell you ownership saves money and leaves you, not someone else, in control of your property.”
Bob Anderson, President of CUPE 40, representing employees at the CBE, said the experience in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick proved conventional ownership of schools is a better model.
“In Nova Scotia costs went through the roof, schools lost control of fundraising, cafeteria and vending machine revenue, and community groups renting using school gyms and classrooms saw their rents skyrocket,” said Anderson. “Liability insurance on school properties dropped from $50 million to $10 million.”
Lanovaz says Conservative governments in the two maritime provinces saw the private model for what it was, a scheme to hide debt.
“Leasing buildings costs more in the long run, but allows the Alberta government and the school boards to pretend they have a debt-free operation,” said Lanovaz. “In truth, we will pay more, and control much less.”
Anderson said he understands that Cochrane simply wants the provincial government to get on with building more schools, but says “the Board shouldn’t let our great need allow us to get conned into buying some magic beans.”
Contact: D’Arcy Lanovaz
President CUPE Alberta
For more information about CUPE Alberta, visit www.alberta.cupe.ca