THUNDER BAY – The Drummond Report was released on Wednesday. “We thank Mr. Drummond and his team for their hard work and advice. The report will inform the 2012 budget as we develop a plan to eliminate the deficit while positioning our economy for growth and the creation of jobs. We will continue to reach out to Ontarians to get their best advice on how we work together to move Ontario forward; building on our track record of protecting health care and education while responsibly eliminating the deficit,” shared Michael Gravelle, Minister of Natural Resources and MPP for Thunder Bay Superior North.
In a release, the Liberals stated, “As part of its commitment to eliminate the deficit by 2017-18 while protecting education and health care, the McGuinty government lowered growth in program spending to about four per cent from about seven per cent last year. This was accomplished through modernizing the delivery of public services and creating administrative efficiencies to achieve better value for money for Ontario taxpayers”.
The Ontario PCs were quick to move to the attack. “The Drummond Report confirmed that after eight and one-half years of Liberal government, Ontario’s health system must be reformed and integrated to ensure accessibility, quality and sustainability,” said Elizabeth Witmer, PC Health Critic. “Containing 362 recommendations, 105 on health alone, the report details the alarming extent to which the Liberal government’s mismanagement and irresponsible spending is now posing a severe threat to the future sustainability of Ontario’s public services”.
“It’s truly unfortunate that it has come to this. This commission and report would not have been necessary had the Liberals listened to the warnings. We’ve been blowing the whistle about the government’s out of control spending for many years,” said Witmer. “Mr. Drummond is recommending a major overhaul of Ontario’s health system, noting that of the $47.8 billion the government spent on health last year $13.4 billion was ‘wasted’ due to inefficiencies”.
“Mr. Drummond has provided the government with 105 failing grades on health alone. Clearly, the government has not been able to manage the health system and ensure that patients receive the best care possible,” Witmer added. “This report is an indictment of the Liberal’s mismanagement of our precious health dollars.”
Sarah Campbell, MPP Kenora-Rainy River, says Wednesday’s report from The Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services is a turning point for the province of Ontario and that it is up to all parties to ensure that it is used to lead the province in the right direction. While many have labelled the report as controversial, Campbell says the document lays the groundwork for important discussions that need to happen in the coming months. Those talks need to involve all three political parties, government officials, and most importantly the people of Ontario.
“The government has spent a great deal of money on this advice and I think there needs to be a very public discussion on its contents,” stated Campbell. “When such sweeping changes are recommended the government has a duty to sit down with the public and ask ‘what is your vision of Ontario’s public services, what standards do you expect, and which services are you willing to see reduced given our current financial situation.”
Campbell says “The government owes it to the people of Ontario to take its time to review the recommendations and to not make any hasty decisions. “The report highlights a number of instances where money is being wasted and programs are not being properly coordinated because they were implemented as quick fixes and knee-jerk reactions. That is the type of response we need to avoid”.
She added that “While not all recommendations should be acted on, such as scrapping full day kindergarten, which would have far too much of a negative impact to consider, others such as revisiting the delivery of healthcare services, the creation of regional hydro utilities and a push to provide fair funding for First Nations’ education can be a step forward for the province”.
“These are things I have been pushing for since being elected, and the government’s own consultant is saying these are steps that need to be taken,” says Campbell. “Hopefully this is the push we need to move forward on these issues.”
The Ontario economy is expected to grow 1.9 per cent in 2012, as a result of sluggish U.S. demand and fiscal restraint by the provincial government, according to the BMO Blue Book released Thursday by BMO Capital Markets Economics and BMO Commercial Banking. Much like the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, the BMO Blue Book combines the expertise of BMO’s economists with information on current business conditions provided to BMO’s commercial bankers by local businesspeople.
“A prolonged period of soft U.S. growth, along with a near-parity loonie, should weigh on manufacturing and exports, but strong momentum in U.S. auto sales is a positive recent development,” said Robert Kavcic, Economist, BMO Capital Markets. “The housing market, however, remains firm thanks to extremely low interest rates, and condo construction continues at a robust pace.”