Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has presented her report!
In response to a request by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, on a motion put forth by PC MPP Lisa MacLeod (Nepean-Carleton), Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released an audit entitled “Education Sector Collective Agreements: September 1, 2012–August 31, 2014.” The committee requested the audit to verify the cost of the Premier Wynne’s decision to re-open the imposed education union contracts implemented by former premier Dalton McGuinty’s Bill 115 in 2012.
The Liberal government had originally projected the cuts to save $2.4 billion, but dropped the figure to $2.1 billion after Wynne reopened the contracts. In her news release, Lysyk said, overall, the Ministry of Education’s original and revised projected cost reductions were reasonable. She also added that provisions in the Memorandums of Understanding could result in $200 million in additional savings if they are carried forward into future agreements.
In her audit, Lysyk found costs associated with revisions to education unions’ Memorandums of Understanding totalled $468 million. The changes included $355 million for the number of professional development days, sick days and a one-time payout for the loss of the retirement gratuity. The rest of the $113 million was the cost for bringing elementary teachers’ salaries on par with secondary teachers. Lysyk also said that changes were also made to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan which reduced the liability of the plan by $2.25 billion, saving the Ontario government half that amount. Finally, Lysyk noted the Charter challenge by education unions is still before the Supreme Court which could result in other financial Implications.
At the news conference and in subsequent media reports, members of the Queen’s Park gallery characterized the changes in the Memorandums of Understanding as the Liberals making concessions to the education unions. Despite the media’s attempts to goad Lisa MacLeod into confirming their view, her constant refrain was that Ontario voters deserved to know this information prior to this past June’s election. And in the next day’s Question Period, MacLeod and her PC colleagues did not pursue this issue, rather, their questions focused on the revelation that the Liberals were planning to cut $500 million in education thereby forcing school closings.
As for the New Democrats, Education Critic Peter Tabuns (Toronto-Danforth) repeated that the Liberals had taken an unconstitutional step in imposing education union contracts through Bill 115.
The Auditors Report is @ Link!
More info is at November News + Views blog @ Link!