12/20/2012 03:49 EST | Updated 02/19/2013 05:12 EST

How I'd Fix the Civil Service


Last week my PC Caucus colleagues and I sparked a lot of public debate with the release of A New Deal for the Public Sector. It's the latest in our series of Paths to Prosperity papers on boosting Ontario's competitiveness for job creation. And its focus is on setting clear goals, doing fewer things but doing them better, measuring success and rewarding performance.

For those in Ontario's civil service, we propose to measure productivity and service quality, just like the private sector does. Those who deliver outstanding service should be rewarded through a tightly managed system of performance pay. What we won't do is hand out bonuses for 98% of government managers simply for showing up, as the current government has done. Those who under-perform, or whose jobs are redundant, won't be on our payroll any more.

A New Deal is premised on the idea that many government workers have lost sight of core priorities through a 20th-century mindset that's completely out of step with a 21st-century economy. Take teaching, which is much in the news these days. It requires remarkable effort, limitless patience and great skill to nurture our children -- all unique individuals with different aptitudes. That's part of the job. But if a truly outstanding teacher performs minor miracles in, say, helping someone who always struggled to read learn the joy of a book, then we should recognize this with pay based not solely on seniority.

But how to create a workplace environment that encourages public servants to do the best job possible, while celebrating the very finest among them?

It starts with breaking down barriers to a career in the public service in the first place, by opening eligibility for government jobs to everyone -- not just those already on the public sector payroll. It will also require putting an end to compulsory union membership and mandatory dues, so if you don't like what your union leadership is doing with your money, you can opt out.

Above all, A New Deal for the Public Sector is about recognizing that there are no easy choices when it comes to creating a government that delivers value for taxpayers and fosters a new emphasis on customer service. A PC government I lead will reduce spending so we can break free of a debt trap that today is swallowing vast sums of taxpayer money that should be going to the things Ontarians care the most about -- education, health care and good bridges, roads and transportation networks. Doing that will mean taking steps that people are going to notice, and won't always like. But we're no longer going to measure a government's performance by the number of people on the payroll, the number of programs delivered or the amount of money spent. Or by the number of fancy stores the government runs or the quantities of roulette wheels it buys.

So here's my offer: We will be clear and honest about what our priorities are. And then we will deliver on them. That's the kind of government Ontarians deserve: one that doesn't just preserve what's best about our province, but builds on it -- to be even better. Under PC leadership, it's exactly what you'll get.

Teacher Strike Tweets