My old friend Peter Lindfield lays down some options for streamlining government service delivery in his column today ranging from program redesign to Atlantic cooperation to outsourcing.
I am not particularly knowledgeable about two of the three but I do know that Atlantic cooperation is highly unlikely. He mentions Atlantic Lottery. A couple of years ago a senior person in Atlantic Lottery told me that there is still resentment in Nova Scotia over putting the head office in Moncton – two decades later. Imagine if we started consolidating health care back office functions or – heaven forbid – electricity utilities.
My theory on this – espoused before – is that in an area like Atlantic Canada where there has been limited economic activity, this kind of rationalization would come down to economics. New Brunswick would fully support health care back office consolidation across Atlantic Canada – if those jobs were put in New Brunswick. PEI would fully support a single regional electricity utility – if it was based in Charlottetown.
If you don’t believe me think about the consolidation of blood supply services into Halifax recently. That is still a massive issue in this province with weeks of lobbying and thousand of pages of briefs. I don’t have a position on that because I don’t know the full extent of the issues but it is an excellent example of one city losing to another in Atlantic Canada (in the minds of the players) and it has been acrimonious.
Beggar thy neighbour has been the policy for decades and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Most of us would rather everybody gets cut 10% across the board than I get cut 30% and the other guy gets an increase – even if it is a far better outcome system wide.