Just like that, Ontario premier-designate Doug Ford has done the first step in getting a handle on the province’s largest line item: people.
Staffing, of course, never shows up as one single item. It never looks that way. Instead, it’s always reported that health care and education are the largest departments in any provincial government, which is true.
But, looked at another way, the top expenses governments incur are usually people and transfer payments (both to people and other levels of government).
So given Ford’s repeated pledge to find billions of dollars of efficiencies, it was only natural that he’d do what he did on Monday and announce a hiring freeze effective immediately that will hold until further notice.
“We are also going to go line by line through the government’s books to ensure value of money for the people of Ontario’s tax dollars,” spokesman Simon Jeffries told the Toronto Sun in a statement. “The party with the taxpayers’ money is over at Queen’s Park.”
Hiring is not the only thing they’ve put on hold. Ford’s paused a whole ton of discretionary spending, ranging from out-of-province travel to government advertising to external consultant contracts until the government concludes that line-by-line review. The only hiring not frozen are essential services such as corrections and policing.
During the election campaign, the PC leader straddled a delicate balance promising to trim billions of dollars from provincial coffers all without laying off a single person.
How can that be done? By a little thing called attrition.