Ten months after it was first announced, the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services has finally published its report. The Commission, chaired by former bank vice-president Don Drummond, has made 362 separate recommendations. If implemented, Drummond’s plans would permanently change not only our public services, but our province itself. With very few exceptions, the changes Drummond suggests would not be for the better. This paper is called “Out of Step With Ontario” because that is what Drummond’s report is. In December 2011, the Angus Reid polling company conducted a survey of 2,000 Ontarians. What the survey found was that 71 per cent of Ontarians want to see spending on public services either stay the same or go up; 81 per cent support higher income taxes on corporations; 82 per cent support higher income taxes on individuals earning over $300,000 a year; and a whopping 87 per cent chose “job creation” as their preferred method of paying down the provincial deficit. In contrast, Don Drummond wants to take an axe to public services, cutting spending more deeply and for more years than the Mike Harris government did in the 1990s. He wants more privatization, which would drive down wages for workers and increase profits for investors but not provide better services or lower costs to the public. With very few exceptions, Drummond ignores options for generating revenue to pay for public services.
Lastly, Drummond forecasts a weak economy for years to come but proposes no ideas to make that economy stronger. Indeed, his “austerity” measures will slow down our economy, thereby cutting jobs and making the provincial budget deficit worse.
Drummond’s plan won’t work.
This document is a first look at what Drummond has in mind. It is not a comprehensive analysis. Instead, it provides a quick overview that looks at Drummond’s proposals from the perspective of OPSEU members. Some key points have, without a doubt, been overlooked; if so, they will be added to future editions of this document, available on the OPSEU web site.