Drummond Report Released: Assessing the Rural Implications

by Rural Ontario Institute 16. February 2012 14:30

On Wednesday Feb 15 the province released the report of its commission reviewing public services – more generally known as the Drummond report.

The report in its entirety is available here:

www.fin.gov.on.ca/en/reformcommission

The wide ranging and lengthy report touches on many direct areas of provincial Ministry responsibility but also the broader public sector (health, education, municipalities).  The orientation of the recommendations for the provincial government is on controlling provincial spending and taking steps to make things more efficient through rationalization and consolidation of similar functions across Ministries and a host of other cost reduction and control measures.  The report is primarily about fiscal management as one might expect from a bank economist.  The report does not deal with the other side of the equation for how the province can foster economic growth so that Ontario can afford the level of public services its citizens need and want.

Rural stakeholders seeking an assessment of what the implementation of the recommendations might mean for their communities will have to take the time to listen carefully to the various analyses that will emerge from diverse stakeholders over the coming weeks.  See the preliminary reaction of the Association of Ontario Municipalities here for example:

http://goo.gl/4MFpd

What would help contribute to a healthy policy debate, so that the public and concerned stakeholders with legitimate interests don’t waste time reacting to non-starters, is a comprehensive response from the government saying which of the recommendations it is most interested in moving forward.  The government has neither the capacity nor the will to move on all the recommendations at once, as we have already heard individual Ministers taking distance from some of the recommendations.  As a result we can anticipate that many of the recommendations will necessitate considerable further consultation, dialogue or negotiation – especially in a minority parliament.  The breadth of the recommendations ranges from potentially significant changes to the shared costs of farm income stabilization programs, to changes in the role of LHINs in hospital allocations, and to centralized bargaining for municipal employees such as firefighters and police.  Each of these could have significant consequences for rural communities.  However, the report by its very nature could not deal with all these details so the onus is on the province now to provide a comprehensive high level response – what it wants to move on immediately, what it likes but will move slowly on, and what it rejects at this time.    

Norman Ragetlie, Director, Policy & Stakeholder Engagement

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