Welcome to the Okanagan Incorrectional Dashboard, a web-exclusive in our seven-part series on the first 14 months of the Okanagan Correctional Centre. Here, you will find some of the information we couldn’t fit into the series itself, some of the interactive tools that will be interspersed throughout the series and some that are unique to the Dashboard.
The cost of the jail
|During a tour of the Okanagan Correctional Centre, relatively new Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth stands next to a ‘Now Hiring’ banner at the jail before a media scrum.
(Dustin Godfrey/Western News)
For the month of October 2017, about when officials considered OCC to be fully operational, the full load of salaries and benefits paid out in the jail totalled $857,738. Comparatively, the highest amount paid out for one jail was more than $1.1 million at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre, while the second lowest was $568,898 at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women.
The number for Ford Mountain Correctional, which would almost certainly be the lowest, with fewer than half the staff of Alouette, was lumped in with Fraser Regional by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
According to a summary report provided to the Western News on a freedom-of-information request, the Okanagan Correctional Centre cost B.C. taxpayers $212.8 million, broken up in to four categories. However, the ministry declined to break that number down further, due to the private nature of the public-private partnership (P3) contract with Plenary Justice to build and maintain the jail.
That partnership accumulated the bulk of the expenses, at $192.9 million, while procurement and development services cost $13.6 million, vehicles and equipments cost $3.6 million and construction related costs over the initial estimate cost an additional $2.7 million.
Further, maintenance costs at OCC nearly hit the $2-million mark, but again, due to the P3 contract, that was not broken down into types of maintenance.
The P3 contract has been used for a number of public capital projects by the B.C. government, which touts the Partnerships B.C. program as a cost-saving measure.
According to the B.C. Auditor General’s website, the difference between a P3 and a conventional public works contract is an outcome-based model versus an output-based model.
The P3 outcome-based contract is less rigid and only defines parameters (e.g., the project needs 278 cells, 11 living units and a cafeteria) and allows the private sector partner to reach that outcome the way they see fit. Conversely, the conventional output-based contract sets more rigid and defined specifications that the the public sector partner wants to see.
In essence, the P3 asks the private sector to envision and create a project out of public sector needs, whereas the conventional contract sets the vision for the private sector to fulfill.
Proponents of P3s say the model offers the potential for cost savings, efficiency and better quality product, and the Auditor General does note that those benefits are real.
However, the watchdog also points to potential drawbacks that could offset or nullify those efficiency gains. From the Auditor General’s website:
- Costs of transferring selected risks to the private sector: Also known as the risk premium, this is used to compensate the private partner for assuming risks additional to those associated with a conventional contract. The risk premium usually represents the largest part of the additional costs involved in P3 value-for-money analysis.
- Higher financing costs: Private financing used for P3 projects is more expensive than the public financing (e.g., government bonds) used for conventional procurements.
- Higher transaction costs: A P3 contract costs more to develop and monitor than a conventional infrastructure contract does.
Filling the jail
Violence in Okanagan Correctional
Find our full piece on violence in Okanagan Correctional: OCC inmates face more violence than nearly any other jail
Decades in the making: A timeline of Okanagan’s jail