What can we learn from Chris Mazza?

What can we learn from Chris Mazza?


Put Government Contractors on the Sunshine List!

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Openness, transparency, accountability…?

In 2011, many Ontarians were surprised to learn that a guy named Chris Mazza had been paid $9.3 million over six years to run the provincial air ambulance service, Ornge.

Ornge is paid for with public dollars, yet Mazza’s high-flying salary went unreported for years. Why? Simple. Under Ornge’s complicated structure, Mazza was paid by a private, for-profit subsidiary of Ornge. And private companies aren’t covered by the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act.[1]

Mazza’s salary stayed secret. So did another $10 million paid to Ornge executives in 2011 alone. And the public had no clue about the $9 million raked in by one law firm to create the legal labyrinth that hid Mazza’s activities.

An ocean of public dollars

Behind the scenes, private sector companies and consultants absorb more and more of the provincial budget every year. In 1997, 27 per cent of all government program spending in Ontario went to the private sector. By 2010, that number was 38 per cent.

Privatization is the Liberal way, but it only hits the news when there’s a scandal. Think e-Health. Think gas plants. Think Ornge. Think MaRS.

Under the Liberals, an ocean of public dollars is flowing to private for-profit companies. It’s time we knew how they were spending our money.

It’s time government contractors met public sector standards for accountability.

Put GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS on the Sunshine List!

The first step in letting Ontarians know how their dollars are spent by private companies and consultants is to identify them. And there is no simpler tool to do this than the Sunshine List. Any private entity that delivers services or project-specific financing to government should be required to disclose the salaries of its top employees. Every year.

This one small change would give Ontarians a whole new window into the actual workings of government – and where their money goes. Right now, the public knows if a professor makes $100,000 a year. But we don’t know if a construction boss makes $1 million from government contracts.

Let’s fix that. Let’s shine a light on where our money is going. Let’s learn the lesson of Chris Mazza.

Ontario Public Service Employees Union
100 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P8

[1] The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act requires the provincial and municipal governments and their agencies to publish the names and salaries of all employees earning more than $100,000 a year. The province publishes this information once a year on what has come to be called the “Sunshine List.”