N.B. Government needs different eyes
At the recent State of the Province event, Premier Alward stated that he would be announcing a group of business people as an accountability group. The head of the group is going to be Robert Youden, Chair of the Canadian Chamber. Come hear Youden speak on February 15th at 730. Tickets available through the Chamber or on our website or click here.
N.B. Government needs ‘different eyes’: chair
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03 Feb 2012 08:48PM
FREDERICTON – The man charged with leading a group of independent business people in scrutinizing how the province spends public money and delivers services says “a different set of eyes” is needed to find new savings within government.
Premier David Alward announced this week that Robert Youden will head a new advisory panel on Accountability and Responsible Government.
Youden, who lives in Quispamsis, was appointed last year to the helm of Canada’s largest and most influential business association as chair of the board of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.
Alward used his 2012 State of the Province address to call for government to adopt a businesslike approach, pledging to create a business-savvy board to change the culture of government and help the province live within its means.
“The experience of the panel members will be quite broad in different industries and in different parts of the country,” Youden said. “What we will do is be able to look at how things are done and find ways to make it easier to get things done.
“Our job will be to identify those barriers and then work with senior leadership in New Brunswick to correct them.”
Youden is also the former chief executive of Jacques Whitford, a consulting leader in environmental, engineering, scientific and planning disciplines. Prior to that, he worked 17 years for J.D. Irving, Limited, where he held a number of senior positions including vice-president, transportation.
He is currently a partner with consulting and holding company Savarin Consulting, Limited.
“Our experience as a panel will be able to lay out some alternative ways of doing things, and then management can act on it,” Youden said. “It’s an advisory role, not a hands-on role.
“This is a different set of eyes coming from a completely different perspective who have different experiences.”
Youden said the primary object will be to find savings and streamline processes.
“In business you see a very strong focus on outcomes,” Youden said. “You develop some tools to help that focus, and that will happen here.”
Alward said in a statement that a full list of panelists will be released in the coming weeks.
“We must make significant changes to how we spend public money if we are to balance the budget and continue to deliver services that are affordable and sustainable,” Alward said. “This panel will help move that vision forward.”
The premier said the panel on accountability and responsible government “will advise and assist government to implement business practices designed to preserve or enhance services, reduce costs and monitor process improvements with a mandate that includes providing advice across government.”
Liberal interim Leader Victor Boudreau said governments have considerations that are not often applied in the business community.
“I can’t help but think that government is passing off its responsibilities here,” Boudreau said. “When you look at what this panel is supposed to do, well, that is what government is supposed to do.
“To have an outside board comprised of only business people, the province isn’t like a mill where if productivity is down you just shut down a department – what happens to the social side of government?”
Kevin Lacey, Atlantic director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said it’s government’s responsibility to make the difficult decisions necessary.
“Our concern is that there are just too many cooks in the kitchen, and in order to make the cuts that need to be made, it requires some real leadership, which we prefer to come from government who has the responsibility to get this done,” Lacey said.
Lacey said that the Nova Scotia government created a similar economic advisory panel, which resulted in a recommendation to raise taxes.
“When these types of commissions have been put in place in other provinces, typically they have recommended higher taxes and they have done nothing really to address spending issues,” Lacey said.