Toronto – A private member’s bill that would mean greater public scrutiny over privatization in Ontario received all-party support at Second Reading in the legislature yesterday.
Catherine Fife, MPP, for Kitchener-Waterloo, introduced Bill 167, the Transparency and Accountability in Government Contracting Act, 2016 on February 23. The bill now moves to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
“This is great news for anyone concerned about getting the best value for public dollars,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “Bill 167 is a challenge to those who would hand over government to the private sector. If passed, it would mean contracting-out and public-private partnerships could only happen if they passed a rigorous value‑for‑money test in a fully transparent process. This bill has my full support.”
Among other things, Bill 167 would:
- give the public the right to know of privatization initiatives and know the details before contracts are signed;
- give new responsibilities to the Financial Accountability Officer to review privatization plans, and reject or recommend them, based on the evidence; and
- give public employees and other stakeholders the right to comment on privatization plans.
“Bill 167 is urgently needed,” Thomas said. “The Auditor General and many others have raised the alarm on the billions the government is wasting by doling out public dollars to private interests.
“Ontarians are listening, and they’re angry,” he continued. “They want to put the brakes on this government’s privatization free‑for‑all. We just saw the Liberals lose an important byelection on the issues of selling off Hydro One and privatizing health care.
“This bill needs to move to public hearings now,” Thomas said. “Currently, there is nothing on the agenda of the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. The call for public submissions can go out right now. Ontarians need an opportunity to tear off the veil of secrecy surrounding the government’s deals with the private sector. Bill 167 is already doing that.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931