FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 30, 2001
talk “a joke and a lie,” public service union president says
TORONTO - Recent statements by Ontario
government leaders that they are making public services more
accountable are “a joke and a lie,” says Leah Casselman, president
of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.
“The Tories have been talking about ‘accountability’
all spring,” she said. “They know that the best defence is a good
offence. They are hoping that if they talk about accountability
enough, no one will realize that they are actively destroying it.”
Casselman made the remarks in relation to Bill
25, the Public Service Statute Law Amendment Act, 2001. If
enacted, the law would change the Public Service Act to let private
companies be the boss of public employees in the Ontario Public
Service. It would allow the delegation to private employers of some
Cabinet-level powers over OPS working conditions.
“When the Walkerton tragedy occurred, the
Tories toughened Ministry guidelines into Cabinet regulations,”
Casselman said. “With Bill 25, they’re going the opposite
She said Bill 25 would create a confused tangle
of multiple reporting relationships for employees. Private employers,
meanwhile, would be working for Ontario taxpayers and their own
shareholders at the same time - a clear conflict of interest.
The best way to improve public service
accountability would be to enact the whistleblowing provisions of the
Public Service Act, Casselman said. The provisions, passed in 1993 but
never proclaimed, would let employees report wrong-doings
confidentially to an independent Commissioner.
“If you want to keep everything honest and
above-board, there is no better way than to have public-spirited
watchdogs in every public service workplace,” she said.
The Conservative government claims the
whistleblowing language is “cumbersome” and would take more time
to fix. Yet similar language was drafted and inserted in the Walkerton
Inquiry Act in just a few days last June.