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Some Christmas trimmings

Ontario’s Liberal government plans to get rid of at least 12 of its 259 agencies and eliminate perks like golf club and gym memberships for public servants, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said yesterday.

Ontario’s Liberal government plans to get rid of at least 12 of its 259 agencies and eliminate perks like golf club and gym memberships for public servants, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said yesterday.

The number of government agencies will be reduced by five per cent as part of the government’s cost-cutting plans to trim the near $19-billion deficit, Duncan announced in a speech to the Canadian Club.

“In these difficult times, we need to look under every stone to cut back on agencies with overlapping functions or agencies whose function could either cease to exist or simply be performed more efficiently by other means,” he said.

The government has already identified more than a dozen Children’s Aid Societies that will be consolidated into half that number, and other CAS agencies have asked to be added to the list, said Duncan.

“Change can be difficult, but these changes are essential,” he said.

However, the Opposition said there are much bigger agencies that should be eliminated, such as the Ontario Power Authority and Local Health Integration Networks set up by the Liberals across Ontario.

Duncan also announced a ban on golf club and gym memberships, season tickets to sporting events, and lump sum payments for travel without receipts, throughout the broader public service.

“This government wouldn’t put up with the box at the Air Canada Centre, and we won’t put up with unacceptable perks paid for with hard-earned taxpayer ... dollars,” he said. Auditor’s reports pointing out frills and perks paid for with tax dollars “drive me crazy,” admitted the finance minister.

“We don’t want to be spending time dealing with ACC boxes, nanny fees and dry cleaning,” said Duncan.

 
 
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