OPSEU welcomes recommendations of Commission study on public services

TORONTO, April 13, 2012 /CNW/ - The president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says the findings and recommendations of the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness have addressed fundamental public policy and taxation issues in ways that the Drummond Commission and the recent provincial budget failed to do.

"I warmly applaud the results contained in the Interim Report of the Commission on Quality Public Service and Tax Fairness," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "In my view, the Commission went about its work dedicated to learn what the people of Ontario expect in the public services on which they rely upon and for which they pay for. The same can't be said about the work of the Drummond Commission or the outcomes of the recent provincial budget."

Thomas was commenting on today's release of the findings and recommendation of the public services commission, which visited a dozen cities around the province and collected testimony and evidence from more than 1,000 providers and users of public services, experts on progressive tax reform, public policy planners and ordinary citizens who told the commission they value public services they receive in their day-to-day lives.

The 96-page interim report, written by commission chair Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a former federal Member of Parliament, contains 16 recommendations on ways that Ontario can maintain quality public services - despite per capita spending that ranks it third last among Canadian jurisdictions - by implementing measures to increase funding through moderate tax reform.

Thomas said he was especially attracted to recommendations that call for restoring the corporate tax rate to 14 per cent, a move that would generate $2.5 billion in revenue, and a second recommendation contained in the interim report that a further $1.8 billion could be raised by reversing the elimination of corporate capital tax.

"Ontario does not have a spending problem," said Thomas, "Ontario has a revenue problem that could be easily addressed. Don Drummond was told not to look at that side of the ledger and the recent provincial budget demonstrated that the McGuinty government prefers to ignore ways by which we might increase revenues. The sad result of this indifference is that the people of Ontario are the ones who really suffer as they watch their public services decline."

Thomas paid tribute to the hundreds of OPSEU members who attended the public hearings and town hall meetings conducted by the commission on its tour of Ontario. Many of those members made presentations to the commission, while hundreds of others attended as a demonstration of their support for the maintenance of quality public services.

"OPSEU members did their union proud by supporting the work of the commission and, in many cases, stepping forward with their own stories from the frontlines. I salute their efforts."

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Warren (Smokey) Thomas