Review: Members’ Dinner with Steve Orsini

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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
  • Taxes
  • 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.


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