Letter sent by Fiona McMurran:
To Senator Andre Pratte,
I would like to offer you my complete support for your motion to separate the Canadian Infrastructure Bank from Bill C-44 for the purposes of studying the bank separately.
Canadians have numerous concerns about the infrastructure bank as proposed by the federal Liberal government. The Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) carries with it significant questions that require serious consideration and debate.
One significant concern is that a great deal of Canada’s infrastructure actually belongs to the provinces, several of which are already pursuing private-public-partnerships. It is not clear what impact the CIB will have on the provinces and their jurisdiction.
In addition, CIB projects will need to be profitable in order to attract private investment. This means that new user fees will be imposed on our infrastructure driving up costs. These fees will affect everyone using this infrastructure, including those who can least afford to pay.
In addition, Canada is a country with large rural areas. In these areas with smaller populations, infrastructure projects are likely to be less profitable. The CIB may leave these communities, and therefore a significant number of Canadians, behind.
We must ask ourselves if inviting private for-profit investment is in the interests of the Canadian people.
Financially the CIB is going to increase costs for all Canadians. The government will be investing in the projects (our tax dollars); the government will be borrowing from private investors at up to 9% (additional federal debt); and the private investors will be adding users fees. This means that through the CIB Canadians will be paying for their infrastructure three times.
I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention the UK election last week. The Labour Party made significant increases in that election by running on a platform that included returning former public assets to the public sector. The UK has already attempted privatization of their infrastructure, including water systems and rail transit, and found it to be a costly failure and detrimental to the public.
Another example of failed privatization is in Paris. Paris privatized their water systems only to discover that they were paying $250 million more per year under privatized water systems than under public systems. Paris bought back its water systems.
I am certain you are aware of the trade agreement known as CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). Under this agreement, Canada can never return to the public sector any service or asset once it has been privatized. This is known as CETA’s ratchet clause. While the UK and France have the option to undo failed privatization, Canada will relinquish that right once CETA is implemented meaning that all privatization in Canada will be permanent even if it is detrimental to the Canadian people. This makes the CIB extremely dangerous and not to be adopted lightly.
Please follow the following link to an article about failed privatizations in the United States. If you scroll down you will see a list of the top ten failed private-public-partnerships.
Especially troubling are the stories in which people are at risk of losing their homes because they can no longer afford to pay their water bills under a privatized water system, and in which people are under boil water advisories after their water systems were privatized. https://medium.com/senator-bernie-sanders/why-trumps-infrastructure-plan-is-good-for-wall-street-but-bad-for-america-7ff353db42af
Thank you for entertaining the notion that the CIB should be studied separately rather than passed as part of Bill C-44.
In addition it is my position that privatization of infrastructure will be detrimental to the Canadian people. It is one thing to privatize while reserving the right to reverse the process if it fails. Under CETA, Canada will never be able to correct a failed privatization.
As such, I oppose privatization of Canada’s infrastructure and hope that the senate will take such a position on behalf of the Canadian people.
Sincerely, Fiona McMurran
Chair, South Niagara Chapter, Council of Canadians