Hospital P3 scandal gets worse as Ontario Liberals and PCs say bring 'em on!

The public private partnership ("P3") hospital scandal in Montreal is getting even worse, if that is possible. 

As reported earlier, a police corruption investigation showed how SNC-Lavalin officials allegedly arranged payments of $22.5-million to McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) chief executive Arthur Porter and his side-kick Yanai Elbaz in exchange for ensuring SNC won the $1.3-billion contract. 

In total, eight people are facing charges and police describe this P3 as the "biggest construction fraud in the history of Canada".  Hospital CEO (and former Steven Harper Security Intelligence Review Committee chief) Arthur Porter is fighting Canada's attempts to bring him back home to face the charge: he had, rather conveniently, left the country.  

Now a senior SNC-Lavalin official has admitted that the company took design features from their competition when it became apparent their design was a flop. Someone within the McGill University Health Centre gave SNC a copy of the competition's architectural drawings, detailing a ward design favoured by  MUHC physicians. 

 Justice Charbonneau called SNC's actions illegal. 

Notably, SNC met directly with hospital officials in the middle of the bidding process: that is specifically forbidden to allow at least a degree of fairness in the competition.

SNC may wish to portray its scandals as from the past, but Charles Chebl, who was involved in the latest shenanigans was not disciplined – instead he got promoted and is now vice-president and head of construction at SNC. Charbonneau inquiry Commissioner Mr. Lachance noted that Mr. Chebl's career had not suffered. "After you have regularly cheated in such an important contract, instead of punishing you, they give you a promotion."

SNC-Lavalin is involved in Ontario P3s – indeed, just after the bribery scandal broke in December 2012, the Ontario McGuinty Liberal government awarded a consortia they are involved in an even bigger P3 contract -- the $2.1 billion P3 for the Ottawa LRT rapid transit project.

Despite all this, there is not the slightest sign that the Ontario Liberals will back off privatization of hospital clinical services or hospital P3s. As for the PCs, expect much worse: they see privatization as a miracle cure-all (up there with creating jobs by laying off 100,000 workers) .   

Notably, the Charbonneau Commission heard earlier that SNC deliberately went around Quebec's political party financing rules, leading to a flurry of donations to the governing Quebec Liberal Party in 2009. The donations came as the engineering firm was bidding on this very hospital P3 project

Photo: davehuehn, MUHC under construction


  1. Liberals and Conservative love triple-Ps, which is just privatization by stealth The wasted bliions of dollars in the e-Health and ORNGE scandals are a direct result of the Liberal's pro-privatization ideology.

  2. The NDP has also set up P3s when in office, e.g. in Ontario and Manitoba. Ontario's Highway 407, a gift to the private sector, was created by Ontario's NDP government in the 1990s. Manitoba's NDP government has set up several public-private partnerships.