2017 Budget offers promise for future, but must deliver for public services to thrive

Investing in quality public services means investing in the hardworking professionals who deliver them

TORONTO, April 27, 2017 /CNW/ - The 2017 Ontario Budget presents ambitious plans for public services, but if the government is to deliver, it will have to invest in the hardworking professionals who deliver them, says AMAPCEO, a union representing over 13,000 professional workers in the Ontario Public Service and six broader public sector agencies.

"Whether at Public Health Ontario, the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, or inside the OPS, our members will be the professionals who develop and supervise new programs and deliver these vital public services," says AMAPCEO President Dave Bulmer.

The government has even included first steps towards establishing Pharmacare in Ontario, with the introduction of program to provide universal drug coverage to Ontarians under the age of 25, across the province.

"As someone who has worked in healthcare for most of my career, I want to applaud the government for taking a cautious first step toward pharmacare-lite," Bulmer says. "But, the public would be well-served by a bolder approach as a truly universal plan would fulfill the promise of reduced drug costs through stronger negotiating power, and the broader public health objective to make sure everyone has access to the medicines they need, when they need them."

AMAPCEO appreciates the government's stated commitment to working with bargaining agents to address workforce challenges and sustainability. Years of wage freezes and cuts have put public services at risk.

It is not immediately clear what the government means by so-called "transformation objectives." AMAPCEO will not accept watering-down of the job security and other protections found in any of our collective agreements.

"After 10 years where public sector wages have been falling, we will be looking for this government to make real investments in the public service. Our members have made their share of sacrifices to help balance the Budget. It's time for this government to begin reinvesting."

AMAPCEO welcomes the government's commitment to making it easier for Ontarians to access public services electronically, but wants to ensure that the quality of these services remains strong at no risk to Ontarians' privacy of personal information.

The union is also concerned that the government will continue to waste precious public money by continuing to rely far too much on the use of external consultants—particularly in IT—where private consultants can double or triple a project's costs compared to in-house work.

"The overreliance on these consultants is driving costs through the roof, and we sounded the alarm on this ages ago." Bulmer says. "Public servants deliver better quality work for much less."

"And, unlike outsourced projects like SAMS and PRESTO, the projects developed in-house actually work," Bulmer says.

Ontarians also benefit when these digital projects are delivered in-house because it improves organizational knowledge retention. "All successful tech companies know this, and invest to nurture knowledge within their workforce," Bulmer says.

"These are important steps in the right direction. It will be critical for the government to retain and attract the talent they need to implement them."

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents about 13,000 professional public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards, and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in eleven cities outside Canada. We also represented employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth; Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; Public Health Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; and the Office of the French Languages Services Commissioner.

SOURCE AMAPCEO

For further information: Anthony Schein, Assistant to the President: schein@amapceo.on.ca, 647.802.6586

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www.amapceo.on.ca

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