EDMONTON – A new Parkland Institute study found tax dollars spent on private contracts for government building maintenance skyrocketed tenfold in just three years, while the details of those contracts and the condition of the buildings being maintained are kept secret.
“These building maintenance contracts are a bottomless pit of spending. There isn’t a shred evidence to support the idea these private contractors are saving Albertans money – it suggests the opposite,” said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees President Guy Smith.
The Parkland study shows the government spent $6.3 million on building maintenance contracts in 2006. By 2009 spending grew to nearly $64 million.
“Not only are the details of these contracts kept secret, they also block public access to the condition of the buildings being maintained,” Smith observed. “That means we don’t know the size of Alberta’s infrastructure deficit, one of Alberta’s biggest liabilities.”
AUPE has seen the expansion of privatization and contracting out across the public sector, and both the Wildrose party and Progressive Conservatives have committed to more privatization.
The union looked at the narrow issue of building maintenance, expecting the government would be forthcoming with information. AUPE did get a high-level government commitment to provide a full comparison of the costs of contracted services to in-house maintenance more than a year ago. The information has yet to be released.
“It’s shameful. Contracting out and privatization drives down working Albertans’ income and health benefits, and the only beneficiaries are a few large corporations like SNC-Lavalin,” said Smith.
“Millions of public dollars are spent in secret, with contracts protected by antiquated laws that put corporate interests ahead of the public interest. It’s just one symptom of a serious illness affecting the entire government.”
For more information, contact:
Guy Smith, President, AUPE – 780-930-3301 or 780-265-2294 (cel.)
Mark Wells, Senior Communications Advisor, AUPE – 780-930-3311 or 780-904-0688 (cel.)