The Ontario government plans to conduct reviews of provincial spending. This both responds to the Drummond report call for more efficient and innovative government delivery and aims to more proactively identify room for improving effectiveness and impact before problems are uncovered – and publicized – by the Auditor General. The Minister of Finance has identified three critical questions the reviews will focus on: “Are they delivering what they’re supposed to be delivering? Are they delivering it as efficiently as possible? And are there some things we can do better?” Not a bad idea.
But as with the Drummond Report itself, and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Action Plan, a critical element is missing: equity. We don’t just want more effective and innovative programming and investments in the abstract. We want to ensure that any changes do not have an adverse impact on the already vulnerable communities that depend more on public services. And we want to ensure that needed reforms contribute to reducing not worsening systemic social, economic and health inequalities.
Developing reforms that will make a positive difference for all Ontarians needs an equity lens.