To earn our trust, the parties have to open their books
Publication DateFriday, June 1, 2018 - 11:30am
As OPSEU’s Treasurer, one of the most important jobs I’ve got is making sure our budgets balance and our numbers square. All year long, I’m poring over the union’s books so we’re not spending too much, and that we’re getting good value for what we are spending.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. As a democratic and transparent union, we send our books out every year for an independent audit.
It’s the right thing to do because it keeps us credible and accountable. And more than that, it’s a matter of trust. Because we open our books to an independent auditor, OPSEU members can trust that their dues — their hard-earned dollars — are in good hands.
With the election in full swing, trust is on the minds of a lot of people right now. Which of the parties can we trust with our hard-earned tax dollars?
Let’s look at the books. Or, as they say during elections, the platforms.
The NDP was the first out of the gate with a platform. It’s 98 pages long and lists dozens of promises along with the estimated costs of each. At the end of the platform, you find a 10-page “fiscal plan” which features four pages of numbers — the party’s “fiscal outlook” that tells us how they’ll pay for all their promises.
It was while examining that fiscal outlook that a reporter discovered the NDP had made a calculation error. It’s never great to make a mistake, but that mistake was a powerful reminder of why it’s so important to open your books to auditors and the public. If there are mistakes, they’ll be found. And at the end of the day, you can trust that nothing’s being hidden.
Like the NDP, the Liberals have published a platform with details on how they’ll pay for their promises. Its “fiscal plan” is three pages long. And for more details, we can look back to the party’s 333-page spring budget for numbers that have been vetted and confirmed.
And that brings us to the Progressive Conservatives. Can we trust their numbers?
The short answer is no. The long answer is: how can we trust their numbers when we don’t have the numbers that fully show how they’ll pay for their promises?
As I write this, the Conservative’s platform is just a web page with big pictures and some bullet points, a few of which have some cost estimates.
It’s possible that the Tories will release more detailed numbers before the election on June 7. But if you ask me, it’s already too late. Vetting and audits take time. It takes time to earn our trust.
But for Doug Ford and the Conservatives, the time for our trust has run out
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
First Vice-President / Treasurer
Ontario Public Service Employees Union