Saskatchewan’s NDP Opposition is questioning why companies were paid a combined $5.6 million for submitting unsuccessful bids on projects to be built through public-private partnerships.

The three firms that bid on the Regina Bypass project but were not awarded the contract will share $3 million in payments, commonly known as “honoraria.”

"Honoraria are paid to the unsuccessful bidders in P3 contracts,” said Gordon Wyant, the minister in charge of SaskBuilds.

The government estimates that some companies may have spent as much as $7 million to prepare a bid for submission.

“The simple answer is if we weren't prepared to pay an honorarium for a P3 bid, we wouldn't get those people to bid," Wyant said.

The government also awarded an additional $2.6 million for losing bids to build a care home in Swift Current, the North Battleford Hospital and joint-use schools. The NDP questions the payments.

"They are all out-of-province companies.They are all very, very large multinational companies that are making these bids,” said NDP MLA Cathy Sproule.

“So, presumably, if they are in the P3 world, they should have the ability and the wherewithal to make these bids."

The government says losing bids can contain innovative ideas, and that paying the compensation gives the province the right to use the intellectual property. It has yet to use any of the information, but says the P3 process is still relatively new.