The incoming Ford administration orders freeze on hiring and discretionary spending

The incoming Doug Ford administration has ordered a government-wide freeze on hiring and discretionary spending until it can get a “true look” at the state of provincial finances.

A new directive details the changes aimed at reining in spending before Ford’s Progressive Conservatives — who promised $6 billion in unidentified cost-saving “efficiencies” on the $150 billion provincial budget — take power from outgoing Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne on June 29.

“We made a promise to the people of Ontario that respect for taxpayers was coming back to Queen’s Park,” Ford spokesman Jeff Silverstein said in a statement Monday.

“The people of Ontario work hard for their money and they expect their tax dollars to go to the services we all depend on.”

All government ministries have been directed to halt new hires, except for “essential front-line services staff” in jails, policing, fire and developmental services.

Out-of-province travel is also restricted along with use of consultants, temporary help services, non-essential events and communications, such as advertising, newspaper and magazine subscriptions and media monitoring.

The directive stipulates “any expense that can be placed on hold without putting government service delivery or the public at risk” in terms of health, safety and security matters.

“Any planned expenditures that are not committed by contract and/or required to meet immediate legal obligations or address matters of health or safety are to be deferred pending further direction,” the directive states.

However, the hiring freeze does not forbid Ontario Public Service employees from taking new jobs in the civil service but these moves must be tracked so the new government can be given a summary later.

Ford promised during the June 7 election campaign to hire independent auditors to do a line-by-line audit of the province’s books to ensure taxpayers are getting value for money.

The New Democrats and Liberals have warned that Ford’s $6 billion in spending cuts will lead to fewer services in health and education. The premier-designate has pledged that no public sector workers will lose their jobs.

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