Monday, 5 May 2014

Privatization of the TTC? Only in Horwath's Dream World

The writs in the Ontario general election haven't even been dropped yet, and it's getting strange already. 

On CBC's Metro Morning today, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath had the following exchange with host Matt Galloway:

Horwath: "We know that the government we had was on a track to privatize the TTC. We don't think that's the right thing to do."
Galloway: "Hold on, where did you hear anything about privatizing the TTC?"
Horwath: "That's part of Kathleen Wynne's plan in terms of the way that they're going to move forward with expansion of the TTC. It's very clear that that's the case. What we're talking about is prioritizing the transit needs of Ontarians. We think that in the downtown, we need to get that relief line put to the top of the agenda. We've actually talked about how we can bring in new revenues to make that happen by pulling in the business community and asking them to pay a share of that cost."
Galloway: "I don't think I've ever heard anything from Kathleen Wynne about privatizing the TTC though."
Horwath: "You do need to look at what their plan is."
Galloway: "We have."
Horwath: "If you look in their budget, their plan talks very much about alternative service delivery and P3s [public-private partnerships] and all of these kinds of things, which are exactly that. In fact there are very serious concerns about how do you actually mix or join projects that are going to be run privately versus ones that are currently being run publicly. These are big questions that I have real concerns about."

P3's and Infrastructure Ontario's Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model are a long shot from privatization. As Kathleen Wynne rightly pointed out later in the day, the projects firmly remain under public ownership.

The AFP process is a regularly used way to deliver public infrastructure projects in Ontario these days. A private company is contracted to build the project, as usual. However, any risk of cost overruns and project delays is transferred to the private sector as well. The Eglinton Crosstown is currently being built using the AFP model, and they have a backgrounder on it.

To suggest that this translates into a plan to privatize the TTC is pure nonsense. It also shows Horwath is incompetent, which is a strong word to use, but clearly is justified. If you want to lead this province, you better have the proper understanding of how public projects are currently done here.