Thursday, October 13, 2005

On Time Or It's Free

Yesterday's speech from the throne in Ontario promised a bold and radical concept in public service delivery: delivery on time or your money back!

Most of the attention focused on a surprise scheme to refund the $25-40 fees Ontarians pay when they apply for birth certificates on the Internet if they do not receive the documents within 15 working days.

The system for issuing birth certificates has been heavily criticized in the past, with claims of some people waiting months as the government dealt with a backlog. The government has said it should take no more than eight weeks, so its money-back guarantee is more ambitious than its past performance.

"Hard-working taxpayers deserve a high level of service," the speech said.

Speaking to reporters later, (Dalton) McGuinty acknowledged the headline-grabbing guarantee was "in part, a symbol."

"But it reflects a determination on our part to tell the people of Ontario that they can, in fact, get value for their money.

This is one of the few good ideas to have come out of the McGuinty government, but one that also sets a dangerous precedent.

If people can get their money back because their birth certificates were late arriving, they'll demand it for all the other Ontario government documents.

They might even demand their money back for slow or no service from the government, period.

I wish I could get my money back from the province. Don't you?

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