Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Operation Surgical Success

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Operation Surgical Success

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Operation surgical success

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An editorial from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, published Feb. 20:

In the private sector, failure to innovate is fatal. Any bank that still forced all of its clientele into long, snaking lineups all the time -- instead of introducing ATMs and do-it-yourself websites -- would have gone out of business long ago.

But the public sector -- especially in those areas of the economy where it holds a monopoly -- harbours no fear of extinction for lagging behind in customer service, or smart delivery thereof.

The penalty for inefficiency is borne by the taxpayer, one way or another.

Bob Rae did not phrase things quite so strongly during a wide-ranging discussion with The Chronicle Herald editorial board last week. But the former premier of Ontario and outgoing interim Liberal Party of Canada leader did nibble at the lack of nimbleness in the public sector as an overarching governance problem -- a problem which, incidentally, he doesn't blame on unions but on the quality of leadership within the civil service and among their political superiors.

Agree or not with that analysis, one of the real challenges facing every country, said Mr. Rae, is the question of whether the public sector can innovate quickly enough to respond to the pace of change in the real economy.

"I'm a big believer in governments investing in health care and education and social services ... but I think we've had a hard time figuring out what the best practices are, and saying, 'Here's the standard we have to meet if we're going to be successful.' "

As it happens, our own provincial government has been slow to give the private sector its due in addressing some of the chronic backlogs in the health-care system.

When it won power in 2009, the NDP inherited the previous Tory government's contract with Scotia Surgery -- a private Dartmouth firm -- to perform hundreds of publicly insured routine orthopedic operations. …

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