Ontario Liberals Request FAO Evaluate ServiceOntario Outsourcing Arrangements

January 29, 2024

Mr. Jeffrey Novak
Financial Accountability Officer
Financial Accountability Office of Ontario
900-2 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M4W 3E2
(Via email: requests-demandes@fao-on.org.)

Dear Mr. Novak,

On behalf of the Ontario Liberal caucus, I am writing to you today to request that your office provide analysis of the government’s recent decision to award contracts without a competitive bidding process to Staples and WalMart, to privatize parts of Service Ontario.

We understand from news reports that these contracts will provide significant value to these large American companies, for example, through the Ontario taxpayer potentially paying for renovations, and by increased foot traffic in their retail stores.

However, the government has not been clear on the value to the Ontario taxpayer. In fact, their story keeps shifting. First, they said this outsourcing would save a million dollars; then they said that it would save a million dollars over three years, and most recently, that it would save $900,000 over three years (see: https://x.com/richardcitynews/status/1751638695784898600?s=61&t=2kJTnCpXTbTumqnY9UyPsA and https://x.com/richardcitynews/status/1751654591144300645?s=61&t=2kJTnCpXTbTumqnY9UyPsA). No business case has been released to validate these shifting claims.

Furthermore, the awarding of these large dollar contracts to Staples and Wal-Mart without a competitive bidding process has been justified by the government saying this is a “pilot”; however, this rationale gets weaker and weaker, as they continue to announce new locations for kiosks in these stores (as recently as today), without first examining the results of a smaller roll-out in “pilot” mode.

We ask that you undertake to estimate the financial costs and benefits of these outsourcing arrangements, pursuant to subsection 10.1(b)(iv) of The Financial Accountability Officer Act, 2013, which states, “The mandate of the Financial Accountability Officer is to…b)  respond to requests from members of the Assembly and committees of the Assembly to…iv) undertake to estimate the financial costs or financial benefits to the Province of any proposal that relates to a matter over which the Legislature has jurisdiction, including any proposal made by the Government or by any member of the Assembly.”

Your analysis would shed much-needed light on the costs and benefits to the taxpayer from these arrangements; the impact, if any, on unionized jobs in the civil service; and other potential implications.

Thank you for considering this request.

Sincerely yours,

Stephanie Bowman, FCPA, FCA
MPP, Don Valley West

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