Frank Klees

Frankly Speaking

Article by Frank Klees, MPP
February 28, 2012

 

Hear Drummond, Think McGuinty

 

" If it wasn't for the McGuinty government's reckless and irresponsible spending over the past 8 years, we wouldn't need a Drummond Report"

That was my response when first asked about my reaction to the so-called Drummond Report when it was first released on February 15th.

Officially known as the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services, this quartet of academics was charged by Premier McGuinty with the task of telling him how Ontario can get back to a balanced budget by 2017-18.

Dubbed the "Drummond Report" after the Chair of the Commission Don Drummond, an economist and former federal bureaucrat, its co-authors are Dominic Giroux, President of Laurentian University and former Ontario government bureaucrat, Susan Pigott, V.P. Communications at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and social service activist and Carol Stephenson, Dean of the Richard Ivy School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.

An interesting group and I'll let you pass judgment on Dalton McGuinty's wisdom in choosing them to advise him on how best to chart the course for our province for the next decade.

An Awakening.....

If nothing else, this report has given Ontarians a wake-up call.  The Commission projects that if the McGuinty government continues on the course it's on, Ontario's deficit would reach $30 billion by 2017-18 and the net debt would reach $411 billion!

Remember just a few months ago, when during the provincial election we were assured by the Premier that all is well in Ontario ?  We were told that we could rely on his "steady hand" during these times of economic uncertainty, and you may even recall the promises of new programs that ushered him back into office. And now, less than four months later, his own blue ribbon commission tells us the province is heading towards bankruptcy unless we make drastic changes.

" Ontario faces more severe economic and fiscal challenges than most Ontarians realize."

This quote from the Drummond Report says more about our government than it does about our economy. I would suggest that the reason Ontarians don't realize that we're spending ourselves into a crisis, is because their government has been hiding an ugly truth. That truth is that long ago, the taxes  that unsuspecting citizens thought were paying for their public services, didn't even come close to covering the costs.  And rather than living within our means, successive governments spent money they didn't have to give people what they wanted, but didn't need. The result ? The fiscal mess we're in today and the need for a Drummond Report.

362 Recommendations

Here is a sampling of the recommendations made by Mr. McGuinty's hand-picked Commissioners:

  •   Cancel the full-day kindergarten program (except in schools where it's currently being offered now) because of its "prohibitive cost".
  •   Eliminate 70 % of the 13,800 additional non-teaching positions created in school boards since 2002-03.
  •   Cap increases in health spending at 2.5 % or less until 2017-18 and cap at 5 % thereafter.
  •   Expand the scope of practice of front line health care providers
  •   Reform the arbitration system to include "ability to pay" criteria and increase transparency of decisions
  •   Review of public sector agencies to ensure efficiency of services
  •   Review all energy subsidy programs and end the McGuinty government's 10 % Clean Energy Benefit
  •   Require public sector unions to compete with private sector unions, not-for-profits and businesses to provide and deliver services

The complete report can be found here.

" The government must take daring fiscal action early, before today's challenges are transformed into tomorrow's crisis."

That's the message Dalton McGuinty's Commissioners have delivered to him.  It will be interesting to see what he does with the advice.

As always, I welcome your advice and comments. You can contact me at 905 750 0019 or through my website at www.frank-klees.on.ca.