On Thursday, December 6, Ontario's Progressive Conservative Party Caucus released its anticipated white paper entitled 'Paths to Prosperity - A New Deal for the Public Sector.' In the paper, the Ontario PC Caucus states that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s 'empire building' in the gaming sector should be stopped, and that the province should give racetrack operators 'first crack' at buying existing slots operations.
The mention of the provincial horse-racing industry appears on Page 21 and states:
"Putting an immediate end to the OLGC’s empire building plan for 29 new casinos across the province could also create an opportunity for Ontario’s horse racing industry. One option would be to give racetrack operators a first crack at buying existing slots operations at fair market value, which could save their industry while still providing a good return to taxpayers."
The white paper also contained many general references to the provincial gambling sector. Earlier this week, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak made it public that he wants the province to get out of the business of being a gaming owner/operator, and strictly become a tough regulator of the lucrative industry.
The white paper states that, if voted into power, the Ontario PC Party would "re-examine every business that government is in," to see if there is still a need for government ownership, or real value for the public. The paper singles out gaming in this instance, noting "of particular interest are government’s gambling and liquor businesses."
The white paper also takes aim at the OLG, stating:
"The case for change in gambling is even stronger. We believe that government must regulate the industry, but it certainly doesn’t need to run its day-to-day operations. The track record of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a sorry one. Casino profits have dropped from $800 million in 2001 to just $100 million in 2011. The company itself says it requires $1 billion in public money to refresh its outdated products. And this is after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its struggling resort casino in Windsor, money that could have gone towards highways or hospitals."
A reoccurring reference to the fact that the government should take on a tough regulatory role to the gaming industry keeps appearing in the white paper. "It is time for the government to become the responsible, respected and tough regulator and not the operator trying to bully communities into accepting new casinos. The government should move to wind down the OLGC, and privatize its lotteries, casino assets and slots operations."
Listed below is Hudak's introduction to the WHITE PAPER, which can be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.
The years immediately following the next election must be a time of major change for Ontario, a time when we all work together to get our province back on its feet and creating jobs again. To achieve that goal, we must rethink how we run government so that it provides the services we need at a price we can afford. Ontario’s $14.4-billion deficit tells us that we are a long way from that position now. Without urgent action, the services we truly care about are at risk.
That’s why we are proposing a New Deal for the public sector. By focusing on the core services that matter most to taxpayers, we believe we can create a leaner public service that delivers more value for less money. Our New Deal will have a clear direction that sets goals, measures outcomes, and then rewards the individuals who help us achieve those outcomes. We will value individuals’ innovation, hard work and delivery of top quality customer service. What we won’t do is give performance bonuses to 98 per cent of managers, just for showing up.
Ontario’s civil service has not been producing the results the public needs, but the problem is not the civil servants themselves. It is political leadership that has no vision for government other than to make it bigger.
The Ontario PC Caucus believes that is not a pragmatic or affordable approach. Our goal is clear. We need a smaller government that focuses on the things that government can do best. We will do less, but do those things better.
This will require getting government out of businesses where it doesn’t belong. For example, when too many Ontarians are waiting to get vital health care services, do we really need a government agency borrowing money to offer online gambling to compete with PokerStars?
Difficult decisions will have to be made to bring the size of the public sector in line with taxpayers’ ability to pay, but it is also a long overdue opportunity to renew and refocus our provincial civil service. We are confident that we will emerge from this process with an efficient and effective civil service to which people will be proud to belong.
This Paths to Prosperity white paper presents our bold, new vision for transformational change in the public sector, and provides specific reforms for feedback and consultation.
The Premier’s job is to provide the best public services and highest quality of life that our economy can sustain. A successful public sector relies on private sector growth. That’s why I am so strongly focused on creating new jobs and putting an end to the debt and government overspending that are holding our economy back.
Those are my priorities and they come from the values of common sense and prudence that have long defined our province. I believe that it’s time to get government working for you again, and that’s what I will deliver.
Leader of the Official Opposition