TORONTO – The president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union is calling on the government of Ontario to re-think its plans to privatize ServiceOntario.
“This decision has been made without consultation and without full consideration of the impacts of privatization,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I am calling on the government to put its plans to sell ServiceOntario on hold.”
Thomas made the statement following remarks today by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.
The government’s own data show that 85 per cent of the most frequent transactions at ServiceOntario take place in person, Thomas said, and people prefer and expect in-person service.
“Face-to-face service needs to be maintained,” he said, “but from the Minister’s remarks it appears that if you expect personal services from this government, you’re out of luck.
“In addition, we strongly object to handing ServiceOntario over to a private company as a so-called ‘public-private partnership’” Thomas said. “P3s mean citizens pay – not for the service they receive, but for high profits and higher financing costs in the private sector. The Minister acknowledged today that the provinces financial problems are revenue problems so ServiceOntario, which collects billions in fees, should be supported rather than undermined.”
Thomas said the lack of consultation on the upcoming provincial budget has been “a low point in the democratic history of this province.” He called on the government to craft a consultation process that would be at least as inclusive as the traditional pre-budget hearings of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
“The Minister stated clearly today that he now wants a dialogue,” Thomas said. “He recognized that Ontario has the most efficient provincial public services in Canada and he seemed to be hinting that corporate tax cuts are a questionable economic and fiscal strategy, which is what we’ve been saying all along.
“Democracy means people have a say in the decisions that affect them,” he said. “I’ve got 2,000 hard-working, capable members who have been providing quality public services asking serious question about their futures. We all welcome the Minister’s statements about the importance of balance and dialogue. They’ve got a right not only to be heard but to be listened to. OPSEU is always ready to get into this discussion .
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
(613) 329-1931 (cell)