The Ford gov­ern­ment wants On­tar­i­ans to weigh in on how they would like to see the province save $6 bil­lion from the bud­get //

The Niagara Falls Review - - Front Page - ROB FER­GU­SON Toronto Star

Got an idea how Premier Doug Ford’s new gov­ern­ment, which promised in the spring elec­tion cam­paign to cut spend­ing by $6 bil­lion a year with­out ax­ing jobs, can pro­vide pub­lic ser­vices bet­ter at lower cost?

An on­line “sug­ges­tion box” has been set up for three weeks so the pub­lic can make their views known, with civil ser­vants be­ing asked to join in and share their in­sider knowl­edge.

No long-term, blue-sky thinkers, please. And don’t dare beg for money to make any­thing work.

Sug­ges­tions must be “fea­si­ble, prac­ti­cal and af­ford­able for us to im­ple­ment in the short term,” the web­site cau­tions, not­ing “your idea must not ask for fund­ing.”

The sur­vey takes about 15 min­utes to com­plete and asks par­tic­i­pants to rate the ef­fec­tive­ness and rank the pri­or­ity they place on a wide va­ri­ety of gov­ern­ment ser­vices, from hos­pi­tals to schools, to child wel­fare, so­cial as­sis­tance and more.

Choices range from very low pri­or­ity to very high on the sur­vey, which com­ple­ments a lineby-line re­view of all gov­ern­ment pro­grams and ser­vices be­ing con­ducted by an out­side ac­count­ing firm.

There is space to list three big ideas on the web­site with room for 2,000 words of ex­pla­na­tion on each one on the site, which promi­nently notes the gov­ern­ment’s key pri­or­i­ties — “re­duc­ing the bur­den on tax­pay­ers” tops these.

“It is im­por­tant that On­tar­i­ans have a direct say in how gov­ern­ment can im­prove the ef­fec­tive­ness and ef­fi­ciency of provin­cial pro­grams and ser­vices while avoid­ing job cuts,” said Trea­sury Board Pres­i­dent Peter Beth­len­falvy.

“We will con­tinue lis­ten­ing to the peo­ple of On­tario about what mat­ters most to them, and we will use what we hear to en­sure vi­tal pub­lic ser­vices are af­ford­able and sus­tain­able, both now and in the years to come.”

The dead­line for sub­mis­sions to the web­site is Sept. 21.

Dur­ing the June 7 cam­paign, Ford de­scribed the $6 bil­lion in spend­ing cuts as “ef­fi­cien­cies” at a level of four cents on ev­ery dol­lar the gov­ern­ment spends.

NDP Leader An­drea Hor­wath warned that On­tar­i­ans will feel a deeper pinch than that be­cause Ford’s spend­ing prom­ises, such as in­come tax cuts, will also have to be paid for.

“Peo­ple are pretty wor­ried about what Doug Ford has in store, and so am I,” she told re­porters in June, warn­ing that im­por­tant ser­vices and pro­grams will be cut.

“The ma­jor­ity of On­tar­i­ans did not vote for cuts to health care or lay­offs to more nurses and more teach­ers or the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the things that mat­ter most to all of us,” added Hor­wath, who is now leader of the Of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion.

MPPs are now on a break af­ter the Leg­is­la­ture sat for six weeks in July and Au­gust.

The fall ses­sion of the House be­gins on Sept. 24.

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