Premiers in Atlantic Canada are looking for more ways to cooperate on purchasing so they can save taxpayers money.
The premiers announced their plans following a meeting in eastern P.E.I. on Wednesday.
P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz said the provinces are already working together on some purchases. He gave the example of school buses, noting the Atlantic governments are currently saving $30,000 per bus with bulk purchasing, for a total savings of $6 million a year.
The premiers are developing a plan to identify more products they can bulk buy.
“The question of, for example, the joint purchase of pharmaceuticals. that could be advantageous to us,” said Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter.
“Each year that we meet, we’re building on the list of things we can procure jointly.”
But Charles Cirtwill, president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, doubts the commitment of the premiers to saving with bulk purchasing over the long run.
“This is one of those things they run hot and cold on. This comes back to the table, particularly during these kinds of times when we’ve got a recession in place,” said Cirtwell.
“If the economy turns around and suddenly they’ve got a lot of money in their coffers, they’ll wander away from these kinds of things because they’ll be servicing other demands. The painful reality is they should be doing this all the time.”
The premiers said they’ll present an expanded joint purchasing plan at next year’s meeting.