Ontario's Government for the People Announces New Accountability Measures on Government Spending
Restoring Trust and Accountability in Ontario’s Finances
TORONTO — After 15 years of the previous government's fiscal mismanagement, Ontario's Government for the People continues to keep its promise of achieving value for every taxpayer dollar spent. Today, Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy announced the launch of the new Audit and Accountability Committee.
This new sub-committee of the Treasury Board will direct internal audit services to priority areas and embed more scrutiny and discipline at earlier stages in the fiscal process. The sub-committee will direct resources to support strong fiscal management throughout the Ontario government by driving special audits through the province's ministries, agencies and transfer payment partners. In addition, the committee will support ministries in their respective duties. Above all, it will be able to focus the $32.4 million the government spends on auditing to priority areas.
"We are committed to ensuring value for money and taking appropriate action to stop fiscal mismanagement in its tracks," said Bethlenfalvy. "The Audit and Accountability Committee is designed to meet our fiduciary responsibilities. It will also reinforce the valued work of the Auditor General, while identifying areas where taxpayer's money is being squandered. It provides a new level of accountability that will ensure Ontarians are receiving the best value for their money."
When informed about this new Committee, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk stated, "I am encouraged to hear that one of the responsibilities of the Audit and Accountability Committee will be to monitor the timely implementation of the recommendations made by my Office, resulting from our value-for-money and other audit work."
The Auditor General recently exposed a significant lack of oversight and soft-on-compliance approaches that became customary under the previous government, including:
- Ontario Works saw an inadequate review of files by caseworkers, increasing the risk of errors. As well, 76 per cent of the $730 million in outstanding overpayments relate to people who are no longer receiving Ontario Works.
- Metrolinx incurred over $400 million in sunk and additional costs between 2009 and 2018 due to transit planning problems.
- Waterfront Toronto had several funding and cost-effective issues, including $49 million spent on cancelled projects, and governments redirecting $700 million (approximately 47 per cent) of their original $1.5 billion in funding, signalling a need for strengthened accountability and oversight at Waterfront Toronto to ensure taxpayers get good value, and privacy legislation is followed to the letter.
- The Technical Standards and Safety Authority had oversight processes that were not effective in ensuring public safety, nor had they fulfilled their legal responsibilities.
- The new Audit and Accountability Committee is the only one of its kind in Canada.
- Currently, the total funding for the Ontario Internal Audit Division is $32.4 million.
- Building on the Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry, the Line-by-Line Review, the 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review and the Auditor General’s Annual Report, the Audit Committee will help direct internal auditing service to priority areas to ensure the findings of these reports are quickly acted on.
- Ontario is projecting a $14.5 billion deficit in 2018-19.
- Ontario has the highest subnational debt of any jurisdiction in the world. The audit committee will embed more discipline in government spending to ensure that the government deficit, which adds to the debt, is brought under control in a way that protects core government services.