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Letter: Public-private partnership was our best option


We are writing to provide information regarding the procurement method being used to build a new long-term care facility and acute care hospital in Corner Brook. These two facilities, announced earlier this year by our government, will help address much needed priority services in the western region.

Contrary to the views stated by Wayne Lucas, the president of CUPE NL, in his letter to the editor of Aug. 22, it is critical that government find more effective ways to deliver services to improve our province, while addressing fiscal realities. Ensuring value for taxpayers’ dollars is a critical consideration as we work to reduce the province’s deficit, while building much needed health infrastructure. Partnerships with the private sector are necessary to ensure people access appropriate services in the current fiscal climate.

Summaries of the value for money assessments for both projects have been publicly released and are available online at http://ow.ly/p6c030eCWIA. They outline the information used to determine the best procurement approach to take, including the evaluation criteria. The analysis for the acute care project for example, concluded that there is a seven per cent savings using the method outlined. On a project of this magnitude, this represents tens of millions of dollars in savings. As discussed with Mr. Lucas, government is committed to full transparency. The full results of the value for money assessments will be provided when a successful proponent has been identified. This is necessary to ensure there is no influence on bids from potential proponents and is consistent with practices in other jurisdictions.

We have heard that it is important to the people of the province that health-care services be provided by public sector workers. Hands-on health care will be provided by public sector workers, as is currently the case. This is a commitment that our government has made and this will not change. A P3 approach sees the private sector assume a major share of responsibility in terms of risk and financing, as well as the performance, from design and construction to long-term maintenance. It also helps ensure on-time and on-budget delivery of the project. Payment to the proponent is triggered by the completion of the project.

The project agreement will be structured so that the hospital and the long-term care facility will be public assets from the date they are operational. The contractor selected will not be paid until the facilities are fully operational.

There are examples of successful P3 projects, which are more recent than the projects referenced frequently by Mr. Lucas. Two such examples are the Swift Current Long Term Care Centre in Saskatchewan, completed on time and on budget in 2016, and the Interior Heart Surgical Centre in British Columbia.

Government will continue to take the necessary actions to build a strong economic foundation, provide better services and support better outcomes while maintaining hands-on health care within the public sector.

 

Steve Crocker, minister
Transportation and Works

Dr. John Haggie, minister
Health and Community Services

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