The Inside Agenda Blog

Inside Ontario: The Drummond Report, and More

by Navin Vaswani Monday February 13, 2012

The fireworks began on Friday, with news leaking that Mr. Don Drummond, Chair of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario's Public Services, will recommend that Ontario scrap full-day kindergarten. As the rest of the recommendations are released on Wednesday, I imagine it will be a busy, and tiring, week for Mr. Drummond. 

The Globe and Mail

Figuring Out How to March to Drummond's Beat the Hard Part for McGuinty

In The Globe and Mail, Adam Radwanski writes that while there's a lot of hype around Mr. Drummond's report, after Wednesday, not a whole lot will have truly changed within government.

It will put Ontario’s dire fiscal situation into sharper focus. It will poke and provoke. It will even provide a few fresh ideas. ... In about 400 government-commissioned recommendations, including more than 100 on health care alone, the economist will tell Mr. McGuinty’s Liberals where they need to go on public-service reform. But contrary to popular belief, they already have a pretty good sense of that. What they don’t know, and what Mr. Drummond mostly won’t tell them, is how to get there.

In conversations with those who have seen the full report, or at least large chunks of it, a word comes up repeatedly: “compendium.” ...

To listen to much of the hype, Ontario will never be the same after Wednesday. That may be true, in terms of public perceptions. But within government, the reality won’t have changed much at all.

Read Radwanski's full column here.

Toronto Sun

We're Picking Up McGuinty's Tab

In a scathing editorial, the editors of The Toronto Sun write that while they believe Mr. Drummond is more than competent, they're more upset with Premier Dalton McGuinty's "almost year-long financial strip-tease."

We used to have Premier Dad. Now we have Premier Don. ...

There will be no surprises for the government. McGuinty and his cabinet have been kept informed every step of the way about the 362 recommendations the task force will make, including 59 in health care. ...

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what Drummond recommends, but what McGuinty does, and he has no credible record on cutting spending.

Continue reading the Sun editorial here.

The Hamilton Spectator

Aiming at Drummond Report Already

Joan Walters at TheSpec.com writes that while the laundry-list of recommendations has yet to be releaesed, organizations -- such as the Ontario Health Coalition -- are already taking aim at what's coming.

The Ontario Health Coalition says tax cuts for the wealthy — not overspending on health care — are at the root of the province’s current public sector economic crisis.

In a report aimed to offset the impact of next week’s long-awaited Drummond report on public service reform, the coalition says systemic inequalities in Ontario’s tax system should be the target of any changes. ...

“Drummond is going to propose, probably reducing the rate of increase in spending, but that’s the same old, same old,” [health economist Dr. Wayne] Taylor said.

To read the full article, click here.

Toronto Star

Tim Hudak Survives Progressive Conservative Leadership Vote

In Niagara Falls over the weekend, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak apologized to his party over the results of the last provincial election, and they in turn gave him a vote of confidence; 78.7 per cent of PC delegates supported Hudak in a leadership review vote. 

In the first PC convention since the Oct. 6 defeat at the hands of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals, he signalled the party would take a right turn in the next election.

“I, as your leader, did not give sufficient voice to a bold, positive, conservative alternative,” said Hudak, blaming himself and his top campaign advisers.

“Our central campaign should have done a better job working with local campaigns. We could have been more courteous, more professional,” he said to cheers from defeated candidates, riding association executives and volunteers.

“What was the message from the people of Ontario to our PC Party? … ‘You didn’t give us an alternative. You didn’t give us enough change. You didn’t give us a choice.’ It’s true.”

Hudak conceded he “spent too much time on certain, perhaps secondary, issues during the last election” but did not specifically mention any.

Read more on the PC convention vote here.

At Tory Leadership Review, Tim Hudak's Reinvention Pledge Wins Votes

Also in the Star, Martin Regg Cohn writes that Tim Hudak is a new man, and that Changebook is dead. 

The weekend convention sounded as much like marital counselling as political renewal, but it worked:

Tories are standing by their man. Persuading Ontarians to fall in love with the new, improved PC leader won’t be so easy.

Hudak is pressing the reset button, engineering a personal rebirth and political rebranding in time for the next election. Rather than auditioning for the role of opposition leader, as he did last time, he will recast himself as a premier-in-waiting. ...

Changebook is now a dead letter, disowned and discarded by the man who once peddled it. Henceforth, he’ll heed and lead the party faithful with greater fidelity to core conservative principles. 

Regg Cohn's full column can be read here.

Torontoist

Ontario's Population Increasingly Bound for Alberta

Last week, data from the 2011 census was released, confirming what most of us already knew: these sure aren't the salad days for Ontario. Torontoist's Patrick Metzger has more:

The first dump of 2011 census data released by StatsCan yesterday was a wake-up call for those of us here in Canada’s burgeoning rust belt. The numbers show that more and more Canadians, both new and old, are heading west to find their fortune. ...

The situation isn’t irretrievable by any means. But lacking black gold, and with manufacturing not likely to make a comeback, the end game for the province and the city has to be knowledge-based industries and new technologies. The Liberal government knows this, which is why Dalton McGuinty wants to be known as the education premier. It’s also the motive behind the expensive and controversial green energy programs, which are intended to make Ontario a leader in an industry still in the early stages of its development.

Read the full article here.

After the Vote: What Does the Future Hold for Council and the TTC?

More from Torontoist, in light of what was a truly historic week at Toronto City Hall, where a majority of councillors outvoted the allies of Mayor Rob Ford on the question of a multi-billion-dollar transit project that will be mostly funded by the taxpayers of Ontario.

This week’s historic vote to resurrect parts of the Transit City network is unprecedented in the history of the relationship between the Toronto Transit Commission and city council. Never before has a sitting TTC chair challenged and defeated a mayor on a major transit-policy issue.

Light-rail transit (LRT) supporters may have partied into the night, but the question for the days ahead is: What now? ...

TTC chair and city councillor Karen Stintz may be the heroine of the moment, leading the charge against Team Ford, but will she and her coalition stay the course? What tasks lie ahead?

Read more here.

Toronto Star

Experts Say Ontario is Failing to Weed Out At-Risk Drivers Over 80

And, finally, one last article, courtesy of, again, the Toronto Star, about concerns that some Ontario seniors who shouldn't still be on the road are being allowed to continue to drive.

... we’ll never know with any certainty how many drivers over 80 should be getting their licence renewed — or removed. That’s because the official tests the Ontario Ministry of Transport uses to certify drivers over the age of 80 are seriously flawed and may fail to spot seniors with cognitive impairment and signs of dementia.

“I don’t think it is effective screening for identifying who might be at risk,” says Dr. Shawn Marshall at the Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre. “For sure we’re missing people,” continues Marshall, a leading expert on senior drivers who is working to develop more accurate and comprehensive tests using hundreds of volunteers ...

For more on this story, click here.

That's it for this latest edition of Inside Ontario, and I hope you enjoy what will be a very interesting week for the province. As always, be sure to stay on top of things by using the #onpoli hashtag on Twitter.

Follow me on Twitter @nav_vaswani