Ontario PC response to the 2017 Auditor General report

Statement from Ontario PC Treasury Board critic Lisa MacLeod on the release of the 2017 Auditor General Report: 

“There is a culture of waste at Queen’s Park that has festered under Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals for 14 years. This has crowded out the key government services everyone depends on, and left Ontario families working harder, paying more, and getting less.

“In the energy sector, we again see the politically corrupt Wynne Liberals putting well-connected insiders first, while driving up hydro bills for families, seniors, and mom and pop shops across the province.

“Under the Wynne Liberals’ watch, senior citizens saw their power disconnected in the dead of the winter, meanwhile wealthy executives expensed hundreds of thousands of dollars on egregious items such as raccoon traps, scuba gear, parkas, and carpet cleaning to your hydro bill.

“The Liberals’ smoke-and-mirror approach to fix gaps in the energy system was a hoax. They put insiders on a panel designed to make improvements, only to have been caught gaming the system for hundreds of millions of dollars.

“It’s time for a change in Ontario. The Ontario PCs will put the people first – not the insiders. We will ensure that hard-earned tax dollars are respected by putting an end to wasteful Wynne Liberal spending at Queen’s Park.

“I would like to thank the Auditor General for her 2017 Annual Report. It’s shocking that contained within her report today is more than $1 billion in Wynne Liberal waste.

“Ms. Lysyk plays an essential role in holding our government accountable. Her work should be valued and commended, not disregarded and demeaned as the government has done in the past.”

Highlights from the Auditor General’s report:

  • Nine gas and coal companies claimed $260 million in ineligible and egregious costs that hit ratepayers on their hydro bills.
  • Since 2010, the Liberals have ignored Ontario Energy Board recommendations to update programs which generating companies have used to game the system.
  • The Liberals have added significant hydro costs to families and small mom and pop shops as a result of a decision to transfer $245 million worth of electricity costs away from big multinational companies. This has been done mainly to cover ineffective renewable contracts.
  • The Wynne Liberals spent $17.4 million on government advertisements that the Auditor General says are “intended to make the government look good.” The total government advertising budget has reached a 10-year high.
  • The Auditor identified 321 projects worth $49 million between 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 that were awarded to hand-picked companies. 
  • Taxpayers paid nearly $19 million to operate and maintain 812 vacant buildings. In total the government could have saved $170 million a year on buildings that currently sit empty.
  • One of the companies selected by Infrastructure Ontario to manage capital projects worth $900 million had performed poorly on a previous contract between 2011 and 2014.
  • Students have been performing below the provincial standards in math since 2008-2009. It was not until 2016, that the province began allocating funding to school boards to improve student math achievement.
  • For three of the four school boards visited by the Auditor General, nearly a quarter of special needs students are waiting longer than a year to receive psychological, and speech and language assessments.
  • The Cabinet Committee on Emergency Management has not met for several years, and the province hasn’t updated the provincial risk assessment since 2012, meaning Ontario is not fully prepared for any new challenges relating to cybersecurity, climate change, and terrorism. 
  • Despite technological advances, the Ministry of Health has not updated the price list it pays to community labs since 1999. This would have resulted in savings of millions of dollars per year. In 2015-2016, the Auditor General estimated we overpaid laboratory service providers by at least $39 million.
  • The Ministry of Health has not updated its PET scan eligibility criteria since 2013, meaning 41 per cent of the province’s capacity was unused.
  • Only one third of the Auditor General’s recommendations from the 2015 report have been fully implemented.