People have every right to expect that their tax dollars are spent wisely and efficiently.
So I was pleased to be the co-chair of a committee – the Agency Review Task force — that was established to do a review of about 190 provincial agencies, boards and commissions, or ABCs as they are known.
We spent the better part of two years getting presentations from provincial bureaucrats about these many agencies.
While it may sound a bit dry, it did give the committee members a solid understanding of how many parts of the government work. And once you understand, you can begin to improve.
We found some boards that just weren’t needed any more. One was set up a century ago to deal with the threat of rabies. It was instrumental in developing the system we use today to drop bait containing rabies vaccine to cut down on the spread of this disease. But with it’s work done, there was no need to keep the committee around any longer.
There was an agency in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs that hadn’t met in more than 20 years. In other cases, there were several groups doing similar or overlapping work so it gave us a chance to consolidate them.
Eventually, our reports laid the groundwork for steps taken to make a lot of agencies more efficient. This led to new ways to do business, such as videoconferencing for Ministry of Labour hearings, making it easier for all to participate. And now, farmers can register their businesses online and people interested in becoming a Justice of the Peace can do an online application.
Usually, it’s the big, flashy government projects that grab the headlines, whether it’s a new subway line or support for a company that’s reducing its emissions.
This project didn’t make a lot of news. But it’s the kind of work that can assure taxpayers that government is working for them, and not the other way around.