NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has announced plans to appoint a new cabinet minister role tasked with cutting waste at Queen’s Park.
The Minister of Savings and Accountability would be charged with finding a half a per cent of savings – about $600-million – in the annual budget each year.
“There are a lot of people around the cabinet table whose business it is, whose job it is to spend the money,” Ms. Horwath said.
“What I want is someone there who’s going to be able to save the pennies.”
But the NDP Leader doesn’t want a bloated cabinet, either. She pledged to cut the 27-member cabinet down by a third, ditching 8 minister positions and their staff, with other ministers absorbing their portfolios. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has made a similar promise to cut down cabinet, though he said he would slash 11 positions.
Mr. Hudak laughed when asked about Ms. Horwath's idea during an event rolling out his own platform.
"Only the NDP would create more bureaucracy to reduce bureaucracy," he said.
Ms. Horwath said her party has urged the Liberal government to start cutting redundancies at Queen’s Park for years, but they wouldn’t take heed. She pointed to the province’s multiple power authorities as one example.
“There’s a great deal of overlap, a great deal of duplication and the ratepayers are on the hook for paying for that excess. I am confident that there is all kinds of that type of overlap and that type of waste throughout the government,” Ms. Horwath said, adding the new minister would be the only person at Queen’s Park whose sole duty would be sniffing out that kind of waste.
Ms. Horwath – who has been highly critical of Mr. Hudak’s plan to cut 100,000 public sector jobs – said aside from electricity groups there are “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of agencies” that could be trimmed down, though she said finding $600-million in savings each year could mean “hard decisions” about social programs. But she stopped short of indicating how many jobs might be lost through her cuts.
“We’ve watched the waste with eHealth. We’ve watched the waste with ORNGE air ambulance. I don’t believe for a minute that those two examples are unique,” Ms. Horwath said.
“Every family knows when times are tough you’ve got to pinch your pennies. I believe that the government needs to have that attitude as well.”
With files from Adrian Morrow