Friday, February 10, 2012

Ontario’s Drummond Report set for Feb.15, but so what?

The much anticipated Drummond Report on Ontario’s public services and fiscal reforms is scheduled for release February 15. According to Adam Radwanski of The Globe and Mail, economist Don Drummond has pre-released some of his report’s key findings, including health reforms and criticism of education policies.

The Globe and Mail reportedly interviewed Drummond—a former TD bank economist—last month, during which he suggested that Ontario can only count on annual economic growth of 2 per cent. Which, of course, is much lower than the province’s rate of growth in the earlier years of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government.

More to the point, Drummond’s  prediction of modest growth, which is similar to a recent estimate by the Conference Board of Canada, is well below the rate of increases in the Ontario government’s spending, making past trends unsustainable.

With nearly a week left before the report is made generally available, pressure groups have already sounded the alarm, buoyed, I expect, by the premier’s tendency to cave-in to public pressure.

The Ontario Health Coalition, a public health advocacy group, claims that billions of dollars in health care cuts are being planned in the face of what it says are “urgent and unmet” health needs. The group also says that the report’s plans contain costing errors and inadequacies that put Ontario’s most vulnerable patients at risk.

This morning, Toronto Sun’s Christina Blizzard reported, “Don Drummond will propose axing the all-day school program for tots [kindergarten]….”

I’ll leave it to others to speculate on the report’s content. I’m not sure if we should even be taking the whole thing seriously.

Radwanski writes, “Mr. McGuinty has recently tried to put some distance between himself and the report, stressing that Mr. Drummond is only making recommendations.” This is just as I would have expected.

Frankly, I doubt McGuinty has the bottle for a serious attack on the province’s deficit financing. After all, he’s shown no political courage in the past and, so far, he hasn’t found a tax he hasn’t liked. The man doesn’t have the heart for tough cost-cutting decisions like those Drummond is apparently suggesting, and he’ll cave-in if there’s very much pushback.

The Drummond report is said to contain 362 recommendations, 59 of which propose ways to cut health spending. Be prepared for the toughest most effective of these never to see the light of day.

As Joanne at the Blue Like You blog put it today, “Dalton McGuinty doesn’t seem to have the political will to deGreece the public sector entitlements that have a choke-hold around private sector growth.”

Amen to that.

© 2012 Russell G. Campbell


  1. Don't forget; McGuinty's staunchest apologists would have went apoplectic at the first hint of any health care restructuring by any other government.

    There is no way the province can dig out of the deficit hole. It appears that there is at least another decade of growing debt even if
    McGuinty were turfed tomorrow.

    McGuinty has made Ontario a "have not" province. That will be his legacy (although the Green energy plan could prove to be equally abysmal) .

  2. I doubt the PCPO will enthusiastically embrace the Drummond Report, or the almost certainly more apocalyptic measures needed by the end of this term of government...