NDP introduce bill to protect public from privatization and P3 contracts

November 23, 2015

Tomorrow the NDP will introduce a bill to create a Provincial Financial Accountability Officer to evaluate and assess the long-term impact of government decisions.

The bill comes at a crucial time as the McNeil government is reviewing proposals to outsource the provincial registries of land, motor vehicles and joints stocks that earn well over $100 million annually. The Liberals are also considering building up to nine toll highways, and the health minister recently stated that a P3 arrangement is being considered for the replacement of the Centennial building.

Under the legislation the Accountability Officer would be an independent body selected by an all-party committee and would report directly to the House of Assembly – similar to the Auditor General. While the Auditor General reviews the performance of government entities after decisions are made, the Accountability Officer would be required to forecast the impact of decisions in advance, similar to the federal Parliamentary Budget Officer.

The Legislation is almost identical to the Ontario Financial Accountability Officer Act, which was first proposed by the Ontario NDP and secured as part of 2013 budget negotiations. Recently, the Ontario Financial Accountability Officer issued a scathing assessment of the Wynne government’s decision to sell-off Hydro One.

NDP Leader Maureen MacDonald says with the McNeil government seeking to sell off provincial registries and considering P3 schemes for highways and hospitals, a Financial Accountability Officer is required to protect future generations of Nova Scotians from bad Liberal contracts.

“Time and time again, P3 contracts and privatization have provided short-term political gain for Liberal governments, and long-term financial pain for everyone else,” says MacDonald. “Our province lost hundreds of millions of dollars because a Liberal government in the 1990s decided to build P3 highways and schools instead of owning the infrastructure outright. The Financial Accountability Officer would provide greater clarity into the impact of these government decisions, and help prevent unfortunate history from repeating itself.”