Mar 11

The problems with privatized services

Tomasz Bugajski at BlogTO has a great little interview with Councillor Gord Perks today, discussing the construction on Roncesvalles and the associated delays and headaches. Perks’ comments strike an important chord considering we’re a city that seems very likely to head down a road toward increased privatization:

Because of the history of the way road work is done in the city of Toronto we’re bound by a couple of problems. One is that it’s a privatized service, so these are not municipal employees and we can’t just tell them “you’re falling behind, bring in five more guys, and get the work done.” That’s one problem with privatized services, you can’t control their day to day decisions.

The second problem is because of a long history of people to the right of centre arguing that everything costs too much. We are required to take the lowest bid on a contract, so it doesn’t matter what your history is on completing other work for the City of Toronto, so if you’re a licensed, competent, legal bidder, we’re sort of required by law to take you as the guy who wins the bid.

via What went wrong on Roncesvalles?.

The belief that ‘privatization’ is some kind of magic that can lead to better services for lower cost is dangerous. There’s always a downside.