After reviewing the final report of the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services, faculty and academic librarians are unimpressed. Drummond has provided Ontario with a poor plan for ‘transforming’ our public services, and is essentially a plan for huge cuts to public spending hiding behind a screen of poorly costed and ill-considered recommendations for change. In particular, the report:
- Is based on a variety of questionable economic assumptions, predictions and forecasts;
- Is first and foremost a plan for significant cuts to spending, including university funding;
- Sets the stage for hard-bargaining throughout the broader public service;
- Proposes a funding framework for higher education that does not keep pace with inflation or enrolment, and as the paper admits, will lead to a decline in quality;
- Provides recommendations for generating efficiency and savings in the higher education sector, with no evidence of how this will happen or how much it will save;
- Proposes shifting educational cost onto the backs of students and their families; and
- Relies on third-party policy entrepreneurs for research, much of which is incorrect.
In short, this is not the way forward for Ontario. The downturn-as-justification-for-cuts scenario is an old one, and it has been rejected by the public before. It is now critical that the Government of Ontario pursue an alternative strategy that takes into account the needs and concerns of Ontarians – a strategy that protects education, promotes effective economic and social development, and rejects the logic of austerity.
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