Ontario Public Service: Lobby at Queen’s Park to end the privatization of government IT services attracts 40 MPPs including 4 cabinet ministers

OPSEU-represented IT staff from across the province gathered at Queen’s Park on October 27 to tell MPPs to end the privatization of government IT services.

Their message attracted a lot of influential politicians. Throughout the morning more than 40 MPPs attended the event including 14 NDP, 12 PC and 17 Liberals. The Liberal attendees included four cabinet ministers and the government’s deputy house leader.

More than 75 people packed a committee room to speak with the IT professionals and listen to presentations describing how the privatization of government IT services has led to reduced service quality, increased cost, and the elimination of good jobs.

The 16 IT professionals came from different ministries and work locations in Ottawa, Guelph, Sudbury, and Toronto. They were joined by President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, Executive Board Member for Region 5 Edie Strachan, Central/Unified Bargaining Team Chair Roxanne Barnes, and Bargaining Team members Mickey Riccardi, Elaine Young, John Berry, Dennis Wilson, Glenna Caldwell, Dylan Lineger and Tim Elphick.

Lending their support and solidarity to the lobby were AMAPCEO President Gary Gannage, Vice-President Sally Pardaens, Treasurer Dave Bulmer and Secretary Barbara Gough.

Both unions made it clear that it is time for the government to stop wasting money on vendors and consultants and invest in developing its internal capacity by utilizing the more than 3,600 unionized IT professionals it employs in-house.

“The government is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars annually on IT services provided by private sector vendors and consultants” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We are here today to provide real evidence that private sector service delivery doesn’t work. Government IT professionals are more efficient, cost less, and have the knowledge and expertise needed to deliver the quality service OPS employees rely on to do their jobs.”

Additionally, the NDP showed their support by taking our concerns directly to the floor of the legislature. During question period, the NDP’s Treasury Board and Finance critic Catherine Fife (MPP-Kitchener-Waterloo) asked the Wynne government why it continues to spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually on private sector vendors and consultants when the government’s own report shows that private sector services cost more than double. The government’s response steered clear of these concerns, and focused almost entirely on the government’s spending on fee-for-service consultants.

Subsequent to the lobby, the NDP has continued to raise concerns about IT privatization with the government. This includes asking a question related to private sector data storage, and the continued under use of the Guelph Data Centre.