Ontario Newsroom

Line-by-Line Review


Line-by-Line Review

Treasury Board Secretariat

Today, the President of the Treasury Board, the Honourable Peter Bethlenfalvy, announced the release of EY Canada's report following their line-by-line review of the past 15 years of the province's spending. The government will use this report as a starting point to help make all government spending more effective and efficient while delivering promised results for the people of Ontario.

EY Canada's mandate

EY Canada conducted a comprehensive analysis of past government spending across major sectors and government programs, with a focus on three primary tasks:

  • Conducting a detailed analysis of government spending over the past 15 years
  • Comparing Ontario government expenditures and the rate of spending growth against that of other major provinces and international jurisdictions
  • Finding ways to make provincial programs more efficient and serve Ontarians better.

This detailed line-by-line review of government spending covered the fiscal period 2002/03 to 2017/18.   

How EY Canada conducted its review

Over a six-week period beginning on August 14, 2018, EY Canada conducted its review based on government's program, financial and operational data, as well as data available from public sources provided by the Treasury Board Secretariat and ministries across the Ontario Public Service.

In conducting their comprehensive line-by-line analysis, EY Canada:

  • Reviewed 15 years of financial records from Ontario's general ledger system, comprising over 233,000 lines of financial account data
  • Reviewed 22,000 additional lines of financial information for transfer payments made by the government
  • Reviewed an additional 11 years of financial data for hospitals, school boards and colleges, comprising 286,000 lines of data
  • Undertook a comparative analysis of Ontario and other Canadian provinces and subnational governments outside Canada. This work examined 15 years of historical data on revenue, expenditure, gross domestic product (GDP), population, inflation and program outcome measures
  • Conducted extensive interviews with 75 senior government officials across all ministries, and incorporated initial feedback received through the government's Planning for Prosperity public consultations, which has gathered over 15,000 submissions from Ontarians across the province.

EY Canada also reviewed recent reports from Ontario's Auditor General and the Financial Accountability Office, as well as a number of previously commissioned reports on a variety of topics.

Planning for Prosperity - A Consultation for the People

Purpose and scope

The Planning for Prosperity consultation was a three-week opportunity for people across the province, including members of the Ontario Public Service, to have a direct say on ways to make government programs work better.

The public had the opportunity to rank the importance of eight areas of programs and services and share ideas to make government programs more efficient and effective to ensure that all government spending is delivering results for the people of Ontario.  

Feedback received through the consultations also helped inform EY Canada's line-by-line review, and were reflected in many of the transformational opportunities put forward as part of the Modernization Action Plan for Ontario.

How the people of Ontario took part

The consultation launched through online surveys and was open from August 29, 2018 to September 21, 2018.

Participants ranked the importance and effectiveness of eight areas, including:

  • Children's and social services
  • Education
  • Environment and resources
  • Economic development
  • General Government and other services, including things like ServiceOntario and provincial taxes and benefits and liquour control
  • Health
  • Justice
  • Post-Secondary and training.

The online consultation generated tremendous interest and citizen engagement across Ontario:

  • The government received over 15,000 submissions in just 21 days
  • The ideas submitted spanned all sectors of government programs and services
  • Preliminary analysis suggests the greatest number of ideas were submitted about improvements to general government (this includes areas such as ServiceOntario and provincial taxes and benefits), education, and health, with over 4,500 ideas in each of these areas
  • Ideas were submitted from people across the entire province.

Key findings

EY's analysis looked at government spending overall, and across five key sectors:

  • Health and long-term care
  • Children, community and social services
  • Education
  • Justice
  • Post-secondary and training.

The line-by-line review revealed significant expenditure growth since fiscal year 2002/03:

  • Total expenditures have grown over 50 per cent
  • This is an annual growth rate of 3.0 per cent and represents an increase of $2,226 for every Ontarian in today's dollars
  • Growth in expenditures has outstripped growth in population.

Recommendations and opportunities for further analysis

The review also highlights significant opportunities to improve provincial programs and services through enhanced productivity and modernization.

The line-by-line review recommends a number of large-scale opportunities to make government spending more sustainable. The recommendations focus on:

  • Modernizing services through better use of digital and shared service models
  • Finding more cost efficient ways of administering government
  • Ensuring government funding is directed to those that require it the most
  • Maximizing the value of government assets, and putting them to their most productive use.

The government will now undertake a careful review of the areas highlighted in EY Canada's report. This will inform future financial planning and identify areas for improvement, including efficiencies and cost savings.