Earlier this summer Doug Ford commissioned Ernst & Young to prepare a report on how his government could go about cutting services and imposing austerity on the province.

Ernst & Young has now released that report. While it is filled with jargon and dull consultant-speak designed to prevent anyone from reading it, the substance of the report is a repetition of a standard right-wing austerity agenda: cut services, deregulate corporations, charge people more fees, and privatize as much as possible.

We have read the report and decoded the key recommendations into plain English for everyone to understand.

Recommendation #1: Means Test Universal Social Programs

What They Say

On page 42 of the report, E&Y recommends reconsidering the “application of universality to all programs by developing a consistent set of principles to apply means-testing to selected programs”.

What It Means

This means that not everyone would get access to what are now universal social programs. The biggest universal social program in Ontario is OHIP, our universal healthcare program. Means testing a program like OHIP would introduce a whole range of complex requirements to use it. No longer would you be able to go to the doctor and get a free check up, or have surgery without getting a bill. Instead you’d have to prove your income level and submit a whack of paperwork — and middle class people could be excluded from programs they now can get for free.

Recommendation #2: Privatize Everything

What They Say

On page 43 of the report, E&Y recommends “monetizing assets through divestiture or the use of Alternative Service Delivery” and “generating a one-time cash payout by selling all or a portion of GBEs”.

What It Means

Sell off everything to private companies who will jack up prices to turn a profit. This could include a range of public assets, from water delivery to airports.

Recommendation #3: Fire Nurses

What They Say

On page 35 of the report, E&Y recommends a “shift towards an agile workforce dynamic” and “optimizing the ratio of Registered Nurses (RNs) to Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), optimizing the ratio of Full Time to Part Time resources, and aligning the staffing complement to the level of patient acuity.”

What It Means

What this means in reality is attacking the unions that represent nurses and other healthcare providers, undermining the basic rights these unions are protecting, and — ultimately — firing nurses.

Recommendation #4: Charge Higher Fees to Access Government Services

What They Say

On page 38 of the report, E&Y recommends recovering the “full cost of providing transactional services wherever a direct beneficiary of a service can be determined”.

What It Means

I hope you like paying big fees to access basic government services like renewing your driver’s license, because what this means is that those fees are about to go up. And if you use government services now for free, expect to start paying for them.

Recommendation #5: Hand Over Basic Infrastructure To Corporations

What They Say

On page 40 of the report, E&Y recommends seeking “opportunities to expand the AFP (Alternative Financing and Procurement) model where the size and scope of projects could lead to improved project outcomes.”

What It Means

This means that management of basic infrastructure projects will be privatized and overseen by for-profit corporations who have every incentive to cut corners and inflate costs in order to pad their bottom line. And once the project is complete, the private company can charge people to use it (like a toll road).

Recommendation #6: “Consolidate” Government Contracts in Fewer Hands

What They Say

On page 37 of the report, E&Y recommends the “consolidation of contracts and aggregation of spend across vendors to further leverage economies of scale”.

What It Means

This means giving more government contracts to fewer companies. And who do you think will be the beneficiary of this process? Most likely it will be friends of the Ford government — people who have done him favours, raised money for the party, and so on. Expect to see Ford handing over more control of the services you depend on to his buddies in the private sector.


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