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Auditor General’s report calls for improvements in health care, energy,

Bonnie Lysyk

Bonnie Lysyk

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 2015 Annual Report tabled in the Ontario Legislature Wednesday.

“I am sure it will come as no surprise when I say that there are numerous areas where improvements are needed to enhance the quality and cost-effectiveness of government services. It might, however, come as a surprise when I say that we also noted things that the government does get right. But auditors’ reports, by their nature, tend to focus on areas requiring improvements, and this report is no exception.”

Prince Edward Hastings MPP Todd Smith, as the official opposition’s associate energy critic for the Hydro One sale, said the most glaring failures are in the province’s energy sector.

“We’re paying 407 million to companies not to produce power; 339 million to companies who produce more power than we need and 32 million to exporters to take our excess power. Then the government wonders why electricity rates have gone up,” said Smith.

“Ontarians paid seven billion more than they needed to for electricity this year,” Smith said. “We’re paying a 9.2 billion dollar premium for wind and solar power. Those two power sources are between two and three-and-a-half times more expensive in Ontario than they are almost anywhere else.”

There are 14 ‘value-for-money audits’ contained in the report, as well as a chapter on annual reports of government agencies and a section on government debt.

Findings in this year’s report include:
-A new computer system used in the administration of social assistance—SAMS—was launched prematurely with serious defects at a cost of over $200 million, which was about $40 million over budget, with additional costs to fix the defects that are expected to bring the total cost to about $290 million.

-The government had a process in the Electricity Act and its regulations for drafting and approving a long-term technical energy plan, but didn’t follow it.

-The Ministry of Health and Long-term Care fell behind on its critical-incident and complaint inspections at the province’s 630 long-term-care homes.

-The province has yet to correct many of the problems in the Home Care Program of Ontario’s 14 Community Care Access Centres that were identified in an audit our Office completed five years ago.

-Children’s Aid Societies are not always meeting provincial protection standards, may be closing cases too soon, and are taking too long to complete investigations of possible abuse.

-The Ministry of Children and Youth Services lacks sufficient information about the quality of care provided by Ontario’s 47 Children’s Aid Societies to oversee them effectively.

-Ontario’s 14 Local Health Integration Networks have a mandate to plan, fund and integrate local health systems, but the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care has not clearly outlined what the end result should look like and when it should be achieved.

-Ontario does not have co-ordinated plan or funding strategy in place for cleaning up contaminated sites.

-The Ministry of Northern Development and Mines has not been effectively encouraging timely mining development in the province, even though Ontario has a significantly lower tax rate on mining than the national average. There is also a need for a long-term plan for inspecting and rehabilitating abandoned mine sites.

-In recent years, Hydro One’s transmission and distribution systems have become less reliable, yet their costs are increasing.
Given that Ontario plans to spend more than $120 billion on infrastructure over the coming decade, it needs to better identify and prioritize where the spending should be directed.

-Eighty per cent of the new funding the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure approved in the last five years to support businesses went to select companies that were invited to apply for it.

-Although school buses are generally safe modes of transportation, government oversight should be strengthened to ensure that even more could be done to lower the risk to students.

-The Ministry of Research and Innovation does not track the total funding ministries and agencies invest in research and does not evaluate the impact of funded research. This results in difficulty determining whether value for money is being achieved.

-The annual reports of some of Ontario’s largest agencies are not being made public in a timely manner—or not at all in some cases. The Ontario Legislature is therefore not up to date on all agencies’ financial and other activities for the past year.

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  1. Lynda says:

    @Gary…Yes, I realize he is Federal.

    I wrote “Perhaps it’s time to start calling or visiting those offices and ask what he can do to address this heaping pile of muck that the provincials are shovelling into the County.”

    I’m sure he has friends in the provincial party. The questions is, how much influence has he got?

  2. Gary says:

    Ellis is the Federal rep not provincial.

  3. Lynda says:

    Didn’t Neil Ellis promise to work for the County in return for being elected? Yesterday he announced the opening of three new offices. Perhaps it’s time to start calling or visiting those offices and ask what he can do to address this heaping pile of muck that the provincials are shovelling into the County.

  4. Chris Keen says:

    Small rural communities like ours can make a case to the province that financial assistance is required for us to survive but sadly, as this article makes perfectly clear, McGuinty and now Wynne, have wasted and in the case of power, continue to waste, hundreds of millions of dollars. The cupboard is bare. And McGuinty had the nerve to subtitle his so-called memoir (read apologia) “Making a Difference” – yep, and we’ll be paying for it for decades.

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