Progressive Conservative MPP Monte McNaughton.
Credits: SARAH SCHOFIELD/ LEADER - SPIRIT/QMI AGENCY
"We're going to have a long, hard look at the future of MPAC," Duncan said after a parade of Tory members took turns working him over on the subject in Question Period.
"I was just appalled when I heard about this.
"As the minister of finance, I'm wearing this and that's life. But when you're powerless to fix it, something's seriously wrong."
Duncan said he does appoint members of the MPAC board but otherwise has no control over the agency, which gets its $200 million in annual funding from municipal taxpayers.
He suggested privatizing the agency may be the answer.
MPAC is the agency responsible for assigning assessments to homes. Those assessments are used to calculate the amount of property tax a homeowner must pay.
Progressive Conservative finance critic Peter Shurman led off the grilling on the MPAC retreat in North York Wednesday, saying the agency was spending hundreds of thousands to gather employees from across the province.
"Taxpayers are on the hook for the better part of $1 million so that government employees can play team-building Lego games and perhaps do a little stargazing while they're at it," Shurman said during Question Period.
Shurman's colleague John Yakabuski followed that up with a demand Duncan sack those responsible.
"Will you admit that you have lost control of Ontario's finances and fire every person responsible for this gross misuse of public funds?" Yakabuski said.
MPAC chairman Dan Mathieson said the Tories "rushed to judgment" condemning a cost-effective way of unveiling to staff its plans to streamline operations, sell office space, reduce field staff and fleet size and put more of its services on line.
"In doing so, we're going to realize $20-million savings over the next four years," Mathieson said.
"We consulted with some change management experts who said if you're going to do this and you want to be successful in a pretty diverse organization -- because you have a lot of geography here -- your best bet is to get a lot of people together and lay the whole thing out for them."
The whole event cost $170,000 -- far less than the Tories suggested -- and only 30 staff from northern communities came by air with the rest getting bused in, Mathieson said.