Jessica Bell, Ontario NDP Transit critic, is calling on Doug Ford to speed up the delivery of upcoming transit projects by stopping the use of P3 procurement, at least until the auditor general conducts a review of the disastrous Eglinton Crosstown and Ottawa LRTs.
Metrolinx is no longer committing to a firm completion date for the Eglinton Crosstown following delay after delay. And the Ottawa LRT was delivered late, only to be marred by breakdowns and service disruptions.
“We’re at a critical juncture after hearing that we will be waiting even longer for the Eglinton Crosstown last week and watching the nightmare of a rollout on the Confederation LRT in Ottawa, which has caused chaos that has no end in sight,” said Bell. “The Liberals let Ontarians down by pushing public-private partnerships that have seen transit project after transit project blow over budget and past deadlines, and now Doug Ford is taking things from bad to worse by using the same blueprint.”
Public-private partnerships, or P3s, are an expensive form of privatization. Ontario’s auditor general found that the former Liberal government wasted an extra $8 billion of Ontario’s money by using P3s for 74 projects.
Yet, Ford is continuing down the same path as the Wynne Liberals, and local businesses affected by the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown continue to struggle without compensation. Jill Andrew, NDP MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s, recently called for the province to put a plan in place to help them.
“Local businesses need answers about why they’re being forced suffer through another delay that will hurt their bottom line,” said Andrew. “Mom-and-pop shops shouldn’t be pushed to the brink and have to choose between taking on more debt and closing their doors. If we don’t use P3s for upcoming projects, there’s a better chance families and businesses won’t have to deal with the additional disruption of lengthy delays.”
Bell has written to the auditor general to ask her to look into how the Ottawa and Toronto LRT projects got so badly snarled as part of her review of Metrolinx’s value-for-money operations this year.
“Transit users deserve better than to be left in the lurch by projects that don’t open on time, and don’t run smoothly,” said Bell. “I’m urging this government to speed up the upcoming transit construction projects by hitting the brakes on public-private partnerships.”
Letter to the auditor general available here.