Toronto – Wednesday’s report from Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk shows once again that the provincial Liberal government’s “core policy” is failing Ontarians, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.
“Everyone looking at the Auditor’s report can see that privatization is failing utterly to deliver good value for money,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “Look no further than the privatization of oversight over construction projects, which has given private contractors the keys to the treasury.
“Construction contractors used to work under the watchful eyes of government inspectors,” said Thomas. “But we’ve seen that oversight diminish and virtually disappear, particularly when it comes to major capital projects. The result is shoddy work and outright cheating by companies who know that (to quote the Auditor) ‘the ministry is lenient with contractors who perform poorly.’”
Lysyk also chastised the Liberals for their reliance on overpriced IT consultants, underscoring that in the last two years, 90 per cent of ministry requests for IT staff have been filled by consultants.
“On average, a consultant costs $40,000 more than a full-time government IT employee,” noted Thomas. “If the government hired just 10 full-time IT employees, we’d have almost half-a-million extra dollars for badly needed public services.”
The Auditor General pointed to mental health services as another area where more full-time, permanent staff were urgently required. She noted that, in the last five years, two of the province’s four psychiatric hospitals have slipped beneath 70 per cent full-time staffing – the minimum recommended to achieve the best results.
“The money saved by axing pricey consultants could be put to excellent use in mental health care,” said Thomas. “Privatization is robbing some of the most vulnerable in the province of the care they need. Certain activities, like group therapy, can’t be offered for lack of full-time staff.
“And while on the subject of mental health, the Auditor points out that Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene – another privatization fiasco – has failed both patients and staff, with 90 deficiencies, 800 safety hazards, and several attacks and injuries reported since it opened just two years ago.
“Lysyk’s report is the latest to expose the waste of money and decay in service when public services are delivered by the private sector. How many more are needed before the Liberals pay attention?”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931