Manitoba takes next step toward public-private partnerships in building new schools

The Manitoba government has hired consulting firm KPMG to study public-private partnerships the province plans to use for the construction of new schools.

KPMG to study public-private partnerships for new schools

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced the province could build four schools in the province using public-private partnerships. (Shutterstock)

The Manitoba government has hired consulting firm KPMG to study public-private partnerships for constructing new schools in the province.

A news release from the Progressive Conservative government called the move "a milestone in examining alternative approaches to meeting Manitoba's infrastructure needs."

The province said it'll work with KPMG in the coming months to develop a business case and framework for a public-private partnership (P3) approach.

"By exploring a new channel for funding infrastructure, we are tapping into Manitoba's potential to find creative solutions," Premier Brian Pallister stated in the news release.

Union not happy with P3 plan

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, a union that represents workers in school divisions, child care centres and libraries, said it's concerned about the government's plan to build schools using a P3 model.

Rather than spending taxpayer dollars on a consultant to "push forward" the public-private partnership plan, the union would like to see discussions held on whether P3s should even be used, said CUPE Manitoba president Terry Egan.

CUPE isn't the only organization to express concern over P3 schools.

In May, Manitoba's Progressive Conservative government announced it was moving toward building four schools using public-private partnerships which would see private companies design, build, finance and maintain the facilities.

The announcement drew some worry from the Manitoba Teachers' Society.

Norm Gould, president of the Manitoba Teachers' Society, said fees charged in evenings and weekends to access schools in other parts of the country worried him, but said students do need new schools.

KPMG's contract is expected to develop a business case by the end of 2017.

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