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President Thomas to Premier: Withdraw section of the budget bill that will privatize ServiceOntario

President Thomas to Premier: Withdraw section of the budget bill that will privatize ServiceOntario

We the North
We the North
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President Warren (Smokey) Thomas calls on the Premier to withdraw the section of the government's budget bill that will enable the privatization of ServiceOntario

May 14, 2012

Premier Dalton McGuinty
Room 281 – Main Legislative Building
Queen’s Park
Toronto, ON M7A 1A4

Dear Premier,

According to the Budget, your government’s stated reason for privatizing ServiceOntario is because you need $100 million from the private sector to improve online services.

You are apparently considering investing more than twice that amount in the auto sector.

I do not for a minute begrudge a $240 million investment in the private sector. Ontario needs a progressive economy with an industrial strategy that produces winners. Ontarians also need quality public services. The public sector is the foundation of every modern economy.

ServiceOntario is a huge money-maker for the province. The government operation annually earns $2.7 billion in revenues on only $270 million in operating costs. That is a 10-to-1 return on investment. These revenues fund the public services that Ontarians rely on.

Why would your government give up annual revenues of $2.7 billion in order to obtain $100 million? This must count as one of the most short sighted and potentially dangerous decisions a government has ever made.

Your government’s budget implementation bill includes legislation that will enable the privatization of ServiceOntario.

The Government Services and Service Providers Act 2012 allows for a corporate structure that sounds like the worst excesses of ORNGE. 

This Act allows a holding company to be set up with a network of subsidiary companies, all operating in complete secrecy, outside the oversight of the Auditor General, the Ombudsman and the Legislature.

ServiceOntario’s operations – its public counters, call centres and online services   – could be sold off piece by piece to the highest bidder.

If there is a breach in the security of Ontarians’ personal information – and there are annually 48 million transactions done through ServiceOntario – no one will ever know.

My union calls on your government to immediately withdraw this draft piece of legislation from your Budget bill.

I await your response.

Sincerely,

Warren (Smokey) Thomas
OPSEU President

cc:   Andrea Horwath, Leader, New Democratic Party of Ontario
Tim Hudak, Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
OPSEU Executive Board