Transit Alliance held a frank and illuminating dinner with Steve Orsini, the Head of the Ontario Public Service, last week. Dinner participants enjoyed a frank and illuminating discussion about some of the major risks for Ontario, which included:
- NAFTA / TPP / Tax reform issues in the US that may attract companies away from Ontario and to the US.
- Amazon – the winner will attract 50,000 people, comprising the best talent in digital, AI, robotics, and the losing cities will suffer a brain drain of this talent.
- Global Income Equality.
- Transit / Transportation issues given the expected growth in the GTA.
- Housing / Development given population growth, the desire for densification around transit hubs versus NIMBYism.
- Automation and the risk to employment.
- Good policy vs. bad politics.
- The excellent that often is the enemy of the good.
- Education – when asked if we are educating people for the jobs of the future, at post secondary institutions 83% say yes, students themselves 44% say yes, and yet only 34% of employers say yes.
Some transformational opportunities discussed were:
- Implementation of 5G as a competitive advantage
- Quantum computing
- Driverless vehicles
- Governments that move faster and establish a regulatory advantage
- Southern Ontario as a centre of excellence in Artificial Intelligence
- Horizontal organization of the public service and focus on what the customer wants not what the ministry does.
The priorities identified by the group include:
- Rapid transit implementation
- Energy costs
- A broken procurement process which is overly legalistic and not value-oriented
- Slow or stalled RER implementation
- Affordable housing
- Business cycles suggests recession and higher interest rates are coming
- Middle class disappointment with globalization
- Transit planning that takes into account employment nodes other than downtown
- Twenty years of no action on transit in 90s and 00s
- Don’t have the Human Resources we need
- High cost of housing
- Brain drain to US
To view photographs from the event, visit our gallery.