April 4, 2011
The Honourable Dalton
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A1
The Honourable Dwight Duncan
Minister of Finance
7 Queen’s Park Crescent
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y3
Dear Premier McGuinty and
Re: Commission on Broader Public Sector Reform
I am writing to express
OPSEU’s deep concern about, and opposition to, the
There is no doubt in my mind
that the Commission is really a search and destroy
mission when it comes to public services.
First, your plan in the
Budget to wipe out 1,500 jobs in the Ontario Public
Service (OPS) in addition to the 3,400 job cuts
previously announced means that entire programs will
be eliminated. The OPS is already cut to the bone.
It cannot deliver the programs it does now with
fewer staff. Your government has been given that
message by Deputy Ministers and other senior staff.
The Commission will finish
the job – not only for the OPS but for the rest of
the Broader Public Sector. We will undoubtedly see
recommendations calling for cuts to public programs
and services, privatization on a large scale and new
schemes to reduce wages and benefits for a downsized
public sector workforce.
Why do I say that? Because
this is exactly the vision laid out in one of the
business-funded reports quoted in the Ontario
Budget, Shifting Gears: Paths to Fiscal
Sustainability in Canada.
This report, written by
University of Toronto faculty and “supported” by
accounting firm KPMG, envisions a provincial
government that solely sets policies and standards.
The report advocates that other “actors” deliver
services and, alarmingly, ensure compliance with
In their pernicious,
race-to-the-bottom world, the report’s writers – and
funder – believe that slashing wages and benefits in
the broader public sector is actually an “equity”
issue. This is presumably because then all workers,
whether in the public or private sectors, will
struggle to give their families a decent standard of
I should note this report
calls for exactly the kind of comprehensive policy
and program audit that your government has committed
itself to undertaking with this Commission.
The appointment of TD Bank
economist Don Drummond as Chair is further proof in
our minds that the Commission will destroy quality
past year, Mr. Drummond has engaged in what must be
called a misinformation campaign designed to gain
public acceptance for increased privatization of our
health care system.
predictions that health care would take up 80 cents
of every program dollar gained widespread coverage
despite the fact that the trend line was actually
going in the opposite direction. Health care has
declined from 46 cents of the program dollar to 42
cents within the last three years.
percentage of our overall economy, public spending
on health care has been stable for close to a
reject Mr. Drummond’s call for a means test to
determine which seniors would be eligible for the
Ontario Drug Benefit. This attack on the
universality of health care is totally unacceptable
to OPSEU, and likely to most Ontarians.
Finance Minister has taken health care and education
privatization off the table, it is not clear that
Mr. Drummond has accepted these instructions. There
was not a person present who did not understand what
Mr. Drummond meant when he said he would consider
“almost anything” to fix the province’s finances,
including health care and education.
this health care campaigning, we consider Mr.
Drummond’s appointment to reflect a shift in values
by your government. His work cannot be viewed as an
independent and objective evaluation of the state of
public service delivery.
Premier and Mr Minister: back in 2003 we took you at
your word when you said you would rebuild public
services. That still has not happened. Ontario
already has the third-lowest program spending per
capita among the provinces and the second-lowest
cost for government administration, i.e. the Ontario
doesn’t need a commission that will promote
privatization. We don’t need more corporate-driven
policies pushing a cheap labour future.
need in Ontario are healthy, safe communities, a
future with decent jobs for everyone, tax fairness
and greater democratic control.
why my union will share our concerns about the
Commission within our membership, the labour
movement, our community allies and the public at
large, including a call for a boycott of this
cc OPSEU Executive Board Members