Open Up The Public Sector To Competitive Bidding

February 21, 2014

Open Up The Public Sector To Competitive Billing

In order to return Ontario to solvency we have to get public sector spending under control. The Liberal government is quick to claim that we are the lowest per-capita cost in Canada but that’s only because we happen to have 40% of the population of Canada. In reality, the per-capita cost is clearly much higher than we can collectively afford as proven by the fact that Ontario can’t meet its payroll.

We’re not even close. Ontario is borrowing nearly a billion per month from the next generation and that has to stop. It is not fair to our children to sustain our lifestyles on their backs.

It’s not as if we need to borrow from our children; our revenues have nearly doubled over the last ten years and have never been higher.

If you have record revenues AND record deficits; you have a spending problem.

Ontarians need to get more value for their tax dollars, plain and simple.

That’s why we at Fair Pensions For All support this week’s bill to open the public sector to competitive billing. We don’t support specific parties, we support specific policies.

And this policy can turn our poor public spending returns completely around, because the evidence clearly shows that public sector union monopolies are the worst possible value for the taxpayer’s dollar.

Never do we see efficiency or competitive pricing from the public sector unions; all they care about are bigger salaries and pensions. We routinely hear from union members who claim they are being held back by their unions. While the average civil servant is a good worker, we never see respect for the taxpayer’s dollar from the union elite, only an insatiable appetite for more.

We need to work together to get better value out of our public spending, rather than hitting struggling Ontarians with more taxes (IE “revenue tools”) such as another gasoline surtax. Ontarians are already struggling with soaring property taxes and home heating costs, not to mention the highest tuition costs in Canada, the highest electricity rates, the highest payroll taxes, the highest auto insurance, etc. Ontario is becoming a very expensive place to live!

By opening the public sector to competitive bidding we are certain that Ontarians can achieve around twice the value they are currently getting, based on these typifying examples:

1) How can you possibly lose money running a Tim Horton’s? Windsor Hospital has 3 Tim Hortons locked in to union contracts and they are annually losing $265,000 in taxpayers’ money, partly because employees get paid nearly triple the going rate elsewhere. The hospital CEO David Musyj has stated “that’s $600,000 that’s being taken away from our frontline health care”. The hospital wants to make amendments but seeing as there is no competition; the union won’t budge.

2) The TDSB (Toronto School Board) is locked in to union contracts and as a result, instead of the going rate of $17 to install a pencil sharpener, the union charged $143. They also charged $19,000 for the installation of a sign on a school’s front lawn, among many other such examples. When questioned about these extravagances, the union boss replied “We don’t need to f****** prove anything to anybody about costs”.

3) ServiceOntario pays their employees an average of $145,000 a year and they take off 25 days, on average, sick. ServiceOntario operates some of its facilities with private operators and according to the auditor’s report, the government operations cost three times as much as the private sector operations(p.22). Read the report yourself and you will agree that it would save a lot of money to privatize all ServiceOntario operations.

Clearly the simple element of competition alone would have prevented these from the get go, and this is something that Don Drummond has advocated as well.

4) Canadians are going to have to make daily trips to community mailboxes to pick up their mail as home delivery is no longer affordable under unionized Canada Post. Let this hassle serve as a daily reminder to support privatization. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands privatized their mail services and not only do they still have home delivery, the cost of letter mail stamps actually went down. Canada Post has a $6.5-billion pension shortfall and these are inherent to union monopolies.

We are compiling a list of such examples as these, some of which come from union workers themselves, who relay stories of how the union culture stifles performance in the workplace.

But we’re not suggesting we fire civic workers and this isn’t a war against unions. We simply support an end to their monopolies (aren’t monopolies supposed to be illegal in Canada anyway?) Let the public sector unions compete with the private sector and let the best man win. For sure the taxpayers will win.

Please consider contacting your local MPP regardless of party, as soon as possible, and tell them you support competitive bidding in the public sector. Tell them your property taxes are too high already, and the cost of living is too high already, and tell them you want to see some real value for your tax-dollars. And remind them that an election is coming…

We at Fair Pensions For All ask for your feedback here. Please share your examples of how a public sector operation has performed, and how they compare to a private sector operation.

For example: former mayor of Etobicoke Doug Holyday used open bidding to contract out garbage collection and awarded the work to a firm which got the job done with half the employees as the union it replaced. The move saved the city a million dollars annually.

Union contracts involving snowplows aren’t about being efficient or accountable to the taxpayers, they are about looking busy: watch plows at work in the total absence of snow!

So please post your stories in the comments section at our Facebook page. We are compiling a list to help support this policy. And please consider DONATING TO FAIR PENSIONS FOR ALL to help us correct the unfair pension Ponzi system currently in place.

“Rob Viles is one of the founding directors of FPFA & a business owner in Southern Ontario”