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Wasylycia-Leis to chair review of public services and tax fairness

We the North
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At the request of the Ontario Public Services Employees Union, the Public Services Foundation of Canada will undertake with OPSEU a review of public services and tax fairness in Ontario in response to the Drummond Commission which is studying ways to eliminate some public services and cut funding to others, a Queen’s Park news conference was told today.

The Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness, will be headed by former Member of Parliament and one-time Manitoba cabinet minister Judy Wasylycia-Leis, who also serves as Chair of the PSFC. The Commission will hold more than a dozen public hearings across Ontario in January and February, 2012.

“Judy is an ideal choice to be Commissioner of these hearings,” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union. “Her record of dedication to public service speaks for itself and will be an asset to the work of this Commission.”

The mandate of the review is two-fold. Wasylycia-Leis will gather testimony and evidence from experts in the field of progressive tax reform so that Ontario can implement funding that will sustain and strengthen public services.

Second, the Commission will hear from front-line service providers and clients who will describe unmet needs and the impact they’ve experienced by a steady erosion of public services in Ontario, with recommendations aimed at strengthening programs and services.

The Commission also expects to collect testimony from municipal and local business leaders, representatives of faith communities and the criminal justice system, and others who can describe the impact of reduced public services on their communities.

Wasylycia-Leis expects to issue the Commission’s final report and recommendations to the provincial government in late February in time for the spring budget.

“It astounds me that the provincial government could hand the task of investigating the future of public services (to Don Drummond) without bothering to actually listen to the voices of people who rely on those services,” said Thomas.

Wasylycia-Leis said she looks forward to listening to those who have a direct stake in Ontario’s public services and those who propose methods of financing public programs.

“We want to hear what people have to say on a wide-range of issues …. including what needs are going unmet; are public services receiving the investment they need (and) what options other than taxes or user fees could enhance the government’s ability to raise money for public services,” she said.

The Commission has scheduled hearings for the following communities (dates & locations subject to change).

  • Kingston January 5, 2012

  • Windsor January 9, 2012

  • London January 10-11, 2012

  • Ottawa January 16, 2012

  • Peterborough January 17-18, 2012

  • Oshawa January 18-19, 2012

  • Thunder Bay January 23, 2012

  • Sault Ste Marie January 24-25, 2012

  • Sudbury January 26, 2012

  • Toronto January 30, 2012

  • Hamilton February 1, 2012

  • Owen Sound February 7, 2012

Additional dates and locations may be included.

For more information:

Greg Hamara
OPSEU Communications
416-443-8888 ext 8777 Office
647-238-9933 Mobile

Mike Luff
Public Service Foundation of Canada
613-228-9800 Office
613-853-8255 Mobile