Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak in Toronto.
Credits: Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO -- Ontario needs to pull the plug on its "foolish" plan to offer online gambling, PC Leader Tim Hudak says.
In his latest white paper -- A New Deal for the Public Sector -- Hudak also suggests privatizing the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG), selling off parts or all of the LCBO and "significantly" reducing the size of the government workforce.
"We reject the premise from the get-go that government success is measured by the number of employees it has, that government should be judged by the amount of money it spends, the number of programs it delivers or the stores or the businesses that it owns." Hudak said Thursday. "That's the old way of thinking and that's how we got into this mess in the first place."
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Hudak would be jeopardizing important government revenue streams at a time when the province is trying to wipe out a $14 billion deficit.
"This new deal, in my view and in the view of my party, stomps on people," Duncan said. "They're all for privatizing taxpayer assets. Their track record on Hwy. 407, for example, is shameful."
Online gambling, a recent expansion proposed by the OLG, is going forward because Ontarians already spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on Internet gaming sites based off shore, Duncan said.
Hudak said it may make sense to regulate online gambling, but Ontarians are unlikely to visit a government site when they have other options already available to them.
The Tories are planning to get out of the gaming business, except for oversight, and have no interest in running casinos or lottery programs, he said.
On the LCBO, the PCs say they're leaving all options open, including the possibility of privatizing just the retail portion of the operation or the entire enterprise, while again retaining oversight of the alcohol system.
Tory MPP Peter Shurman said the model chosen could impact the revenue available to the treasury.
"You ask about how we know we'd make more money, I can tell you frankly we don't. But we don't know that we would make any less money," Shurman said.
Duncan said the Tories have an obligation to do their homework, arguing it could be 10 to 15 years before the deal balanced out in favour of taxpayers -- if it ever does.
"If he can do it, God bless him but then explain it to the credit rating agencies," Duncan said.
Hudak said he would ensure that any path forward is the best deal for taxpayers and that the Ontario government is focused on core public services.