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After years of complaints that haphazard, last-minute funding decisions made it difficult for public institutions and local authorities to plan, the Ontario government has promised it will move to a three-year funding model. But there could be a catch for public sector workers.

In a paper released with last month’s budget, the Eves government says legislation will be introduced this year giving hospitals, school boards and universities a more predictable funding base. Multi-year funding for municipalities is also promised in future years.

But to qualify, these institutions will need to meet performance indicators that could drive another round of privatization and cutback pressures.

The problem with performance indicators has been demonstrated already in the post-secondary sector. The Ontario government’s earlier performance-based funding strategy used indicators such as the percentage of graduates who secured jobs to compel universities to compete with one another for funds. Now the government wants to extend this strategy to an increasing percentage of operating budgets.

Through competitive funding, public services are being restructured in the image of corporations. For that reason, it will be key that ’performance’ is defined to protect quality, access, equity, safety and universality.

Because what they consider ’waste’, we consider gains made by workers for equality in service, and dignity in the workplace.