Tuesday, February 5, 2013

OUR RIGHT TO KNOW: NL NEEDS A SUNSHINE LIST



Today’s Telegram story about former Progressive Conservative Candidate John Noseworthy’s payout for his unsolicited, sole sourced review of a provincial government department got me to thinking about contracts, expenses and transparency.

Why does the province of Newfoundland and Labrador not have a Sunshine list like other jurisdictions in Canada, particularly Ontario?

The Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act requires organizations/individuals that receive public funding from the Province of Ontario to disclose annually the names, positions, salaries and total taxable benefits of employees paid $100,000 or more in a calendar year. 

The government webpage states that “it applies to organizations such as the Government of Ontario, Crown Agencies, Municipalities, Hospitals, Boards of Public Health, School Boards, Universities, Colleges, Hydro One, Ontario Power Generation, and other public sector employers who receive a significant level of funding from the provincial government.”

What about the public disclosure of  travel, meal and hospitality expense claims of senior bureaucrats,  cabinet ministers, parliamentary assistants, political staff, government appointees and senior management in ministries?
A Sunshine list would show a commitment to improving transparency and accountability of the use of public funds. Both could be publicly disclosed on-line on websites.

Instead, we have senior civil servants receiving bonuses and awards which we as taxpayers are not privy to. The best we are offered is a salary range. Why is it that the people of Ontario demand and get transparency but the public in Newfoundland are not entitled to the same?

The answer is because we accept it! 

We don’t get riled up. 

We allow our government to walk all over us. 

Knowledge of what our top civil servants, politicians, staff and cronies receive from the public tithe.

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