Treat OLG fairly

Are the executives and staff at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. being treated fairly? Is part of their salary package hazard pay?
The media coverage has broad-brushed OLG employees as pigs at the public trough for outrageous spending. The story has been in the headlines for weeks, a very one-sided attack on the minutia of every-day expenses. I can’t help but feel that the political agenda has outweighed the materiality and humanity of the situation.

Were OLG employees really pigs? How many employees are we talking about? How material are the expenses? The word “pigs” implies a dripping level of excess that I didn’t see evidence for. I’ll give them the word public, it is a Crown corporation.

As for “public trough,” that money wouldn’t be there for them to spend if they didn’t bring in that revenue in the first place–good for them for raising billions of dollars of revenue.

Let’s face it; there probably isn’t a public or private institution (especially of this size) that could withstand the microscopic scrutiny that the OLG has been under. The expenses cited in the news were hardly shocking to me, and to my friends in private-sector business they were laughable. If the worst of the worst are gym memberships and team dinners, it has been a slow news month.

What I take issue with is that the employees seem to be severely disrespected, especially with the lack of context around the presented expenses. Making matters worse, the government seems to have OLG employees under a gag order not to speak to the media (convenient, since employees can’t dispute the government’s claims).

Expensing meals with colleagues for business lunch meetings or dinners is standard business practice. For example, at one of my past jobs, any time workers were still in the office after 6:30 p. m., the company paid for dinner. Team-building events and dinner or lunch meetings when long hours or key deliverables are met are also important motivational tools for achieving positive company cultures and to reach organizational goals.

Fitness allowances for gym memberships are also a common executive perk. It acknowledges the importance of a work-life balance and that long hours at work and health don’t often go hand-in-hand. Encouraging fitness for employees is a good thing and not an outrageous expense.

Other expenses cited include backrests, dry cleaning, and pen refills. If the backrests are for ergonomic reasons, the dry cleaning is on business trips, and the pen is for use at work, then I don’t see the issue as long as these expenses are allowed under the policies of the OLG . . . which I am told, unofficially, they are.

If employees aren’t greedily breaking company policies, why are lower-level executives being named and slagged in the media so doggedly?
These are not elected officials who signed up for this kind of public vilification. These are people like you and me. This is a huge invasion of privacy to make public the names of the individuals along with the fitness allowance they used. It is truly not appropriate to have it broadcast that he expensed Weight Watchers or she expensed Curves (clearly I refuse to restate the names).

Yes, they are public servants, but how are we going to attract competent talent to our government jobs if this is the kind of treatment they receive in the media?

If they had broken rules, and done so grossly, then perhaps there is argument for attaching a name, but that is not the case here. Stop humiliating them so undeservedly.

I am not saying there isn’t an issue to be dealt with at the OLG. If the policies are not in line with other government agencies, fix that. If people abused the policies, crack down on them, but go after the policies, not the people.

This could have been handled professionally with a policy realignment across all Crown corporations and government departments, but instead it was made very public.

It feels like ex-CEO KellyMcDougald and all OLG employees are paying for the recent problems at eHealth. It feels calculated and I don’t like it.

As a taxpayer, I am less concerned about a few expensed dinners than I am about having to pay out a huge settlement over wrongful dismissal to McDougald.

Did Finance Minister Dwight Duncan demand that two heads roll over this?When McDougald stood up for her colleagues, was she thrown in front of the campaign bus? Perhaps it is not McDougald’s integrity that should be questioned.

The mistakes made in dealing with this issue could cost taxpayers millions, which eclipses the cost of the OLG memberships and dinners. If this is Duncan’s idea of protecting my money, I’d rather he sat on his hands next time.

Let’s hope McDougald’s is the only lawsuit. But perhaps it shouldn’t be. It seems to me that a lot of peoples’ privacy was violated by this.

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