So now that we’ve hit all the big inefficiencies they teach in economics classes worldwide, I have another concept that I wanted to add to the list. This is ever present in the world of today and if you grew up in Canada you have been affected by this. When you interact with the government and you observe some sort of inefficiency, whether it is in the form of waiting in a line or just waiting, or even missing out on relevant information in your formative years, you’ve been hit by it. I’ve termed it gatekeeper inefficiency, based on the government deeming itself to be the sole provider of certain services (e.g. education or electricity or public transit) and the inefficiencies that exist in trying to fix those systems as an outsider. Inefficiencies often manifest themselves as higher prices or longer wait lines – just because you don’t see the cost of something doesn’t mean you don’t pay it. Implementing control plans and PFMEAs to communicate government products and services would do a lot to eliminating this gatekeeper inefficiency, however the government doesn’t use those tools presently, so this gatekeeper inefficiency is still present.
An example of the gatekeeper inefficiency is the time and effort required of normal every day citizens, when trying to change a government service/policy. Remember in the world where nothing is free, the government expects you to take time out of your day and get things moving for them, for FREE. You don’t get to document those hours and deduct them in your taxes… No; don’t mention the fact that no incentivization model exists that would make ordinary citizens want to improve government outside of sheer will. Think about the hoops you need to jump through to get government action started and the percentage chance that the suggestions you make will be ignored – two additional stumbling blocks for suggesting change. I’ve had to deal with sponsoring my wife from Dubai and let me tell you the amount of bureaucracy that currently exists provides little to no added value to Canadians – or at least this added value has not been quantified and implementing control plans and PFMEAs would allow them to quantify it. Control plans and PFMEAs would allow ordinary citizens to take a look at a summary of each government service provided and ensure that value is delivered to its citizens. If value is not being delivered, the control plan and PFMEA would allow for a solid starting point to implement change. Remember, before you know where you want to go, you have to know where you stand and the more eyes you have looking at a solution, the better the solution will be. Obviously the eyes looking at the solution will have to be trained to a certain degree, but the PFMEA and control plans would accomplish that. To put it into a different perspective, NO auto company would even consider entering business with a company if they didn’t have a control plan AND accompanying PFMEA for the process because they’re deemed that integral. This is the biggest qualm that fiscally conservative people such as myself have with government programs and that is, before raising taxes, take a look at where you spend money and make sure it’s spent smartly.
Back to my wife’s immigration, I’ve spoken to many CIC officials and they’re all trained to provide you with nondescript answers as giving firm answers, adds the potential for unneeded liabilities to CIC’s workload. For example, recently I was notified by a border guard while crossing the border that CBSA and CIC shared the same system, so I could go into a CBSA office and view where my application was in processing; something you cannot even do at a CIC office as they tell you to go online to check it. The online portal is a 1-line summary that lets you know your application has been received and nothing more. My wife completed the application without the help of an immigration lawyer – someone who charges 3-5 g’s to complete the application – so she thought maybe she made a mistake, as the application was off the timeline initially stated on the CIC website. By the way, my wife is a smart, proactive woman. She went through the entire application website and spent money on a police check and health exam to further expedite our application because it was supposed to put you on the lower end of the wait time spectrum. By the way, the timeline has increased from 18 months – when we submitted which was April 2015 – to what’s currently 26 months and really there’s nothing ordinary citizens can do, if this timeline is further increased. It is a timeline that changed around the 2015 election, in which the Liberals took power from the Conservatives, so change of government can be considered a non-factor. The only issue I have with this new Liberal government is that when they made the claim that the Syrian refugee crisis was not going to add additional processing times for applications already submitted, that this wasn’t a half truth. It would be a half-truth that certainly could have been verified pre-election by looking at the CIC control plan and PFMEA. There’s no current way for to see government capacity or throughput other than 1 line summaries offered through government portals. With respect to the immigration applications, we’re at the 15-month mark now and we’ve received very little information from CIC; if you’re going to make me wait 26 months, than at least tell me where you are in the process. Officially, they do not provide feedback unless the waiting time has passed their magical prescribed wait list time, which is now 26 months. So CIC can just increase that wait time anytime it gets a lot of people inquiring about their applications because then people can’t call in to inquire about their application until this wait time has been met.
I figure walking into the CBSA office to inquire on the application is something that CBSA will likely change in their own procedures, as I was clearly one of the first people who came to the border to inquire about immigration applications through this venue. At this 26 month mark, this is when they provide you feedback into whether your application is missing information, and if it is missing information, then guess what? You’re waiting even further. Time is money. Money is power. We’re effectively powerless. In my opinion, they do this because providing more information would allow people to aggregate how long it takes for each step in an application to get processed and see what step in their process takes the longest (something that would be covered under the control plan and PFMEA). Actually I was told by the CBSA official to contact my local MP, and they’d make things happen with CIC. So I have to go through the gatekeeper to eliminate an inefficiency, but who even knows if the gatekeeper would fix that for all or just myself? The system wouldn’t be fixed because who knows if the gatekeeper would actually fix the system or just quiet the symptom (aka me complaining).
Another example of gatekeeper inefficiency
It is clear to me that robust services do not currently exist in government and are not being developed at a federal or provincial level. For example, provincially-run public schools STILL lack mandatory computer science classes. It’s not right that growing up I was told by what seemed like 50% of the teachers, that getting an arts degree was worthy as those were all the arts teachers who were telling me that. Now I didn’t listen to them, instead pursuing engineering, however had I listened, I’d be in the same situation as many arts grads, and that is working in an industry that I did not study in University. I don’t mean this as a slight against people with arts degrees, but data shows that people with arts degrees default on their osap higher than STEM grads and it’s nice to make money. I was even told by a grade 11 guidance counselor, that I should drop my desire to be an Engineer or go to college because I scored a 62% in grade 11 Physics. Besides that, going to college is vilified in high schools. Forget the fact that you could get a 40-60k job after just 2 years in college, for some reason we’re still brainwashing our youth into this belief. Again that’s another anecdotal observation I’ve made from talking to my younger family members but it was a belief I definitely held until I graduated University and hit the job market. Graduating into the real world and getting a job related to your degree, is looked at, as a badge of honour; a sign that you know what you’re doing, but sometimes you get lucky. Imagine… in 5 years, hydro prices in Ontario skyrocket and Mexico continues on the slow yet steady pace of winning all new auto business. Is this a likely scenario? I’d say it has a chance to happen, especially if companies don’t invest in new products here. That means that the current education system is graduating engineers for basically no new jobs. What does this do to all of the Mechanical Engineering programs across South Western Ontario? I’d venture to say that it puts them directly at risk and that’s due to the lagged reaction, of years of government inaction to adequately train young engineers. Right after graduating from university, there was a lot of technical knowledge that I’d be now embarrassed to say I didn’t know back then.
But this article isn’t about anecdotal observations about education, it’s about the gatekeeper inefficiency. To change these programs there’s layers of bureaucracy you have to run through to get minor changes through. Again the school board administrators (school boards across the country) are the gatekeepers you have to convince to change the one service (arguably the most important government services of educating our youth). Please noone mention the fact that the TDSB – the largest school board in the country – just ran through a spending scandal where their very existence was threatened. Just remember, these are the people running your children’s education.
I hope I’ve been able to express my definition of gatekeeper inefficiency well. If not let me know and I’ll do my best to communicate it further.
Article was written by gtareguy (Greater Toronto area real Estate guy) . I release a new article every Friday and I write about economics, the nba and real estate in the GTA.