Ontario's incoming premier has put the public service under a hiring freeze as part of a series of measures meant to limit spending as he re-examines the province's books.

A spokesman for Doug Ford says the Progressive Conservative leader has also directed government ministries to cancel "subscription-based services" and to restrict out-of-province travel.

Simon Jefferies says the Tories will review government spending line by line to ensure taxpayers' money is going to the services people rely on.

During the election campaign, Ford promised to launch an audit of government spending and to save billions each year by finding unspecified efficiencies, without cutting any jobs.

A source within the party says essential frontline staff, including those in policing and fire services, are exempt from the hiring freeze.

Any other hiring, aside from lateral moves within the public service or appointments required to fulfil collective agreements, must be officially approved before going forward.

The head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says he's not surprised by the decision, but has concerns about how it may affect services and the 34,000 public sector workers the union represents.

"Whatever this man does will affect at least some of our members everywhere, and depending on the decision, could affect a lot of them," said Warren "Smokey" Thomas, OPSEU's president.

Thomas said he sent Ford a letter last week asking for a meeting and reminding him of his promise not to lay off any workers in his belt-tightening efforts, but said the premier-designate has yet to take him up on the offer.