If last year’s report by the Auditor General was damning – filled with tales of profligacy and mismanagement by Kathleen Wynne’s government – the 2015 version is scathing. Over hundreds of pages, it details incompetence and corruption on a systemic scale.
From failures to protect children and long-term care patients to dropping the ball on the electricity file to the detriment of the system and our wallets, Bonnie Lysyk paints a picture of a government adrift and wasting money like no other before it.
The many instances of mismanagement includes 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 malfunctioning system lead to some $140 million in benefit errors, perhaps $89 million in overpayments and $51 million in underpayments.
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. In brief, tax dollars were doled out to friends of the government with no accountability.
In that vein, Lysyk found 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. Again, zero accountability for tax dollars. Another potential slush fund.
Some of the strongest language was directed at the government’s handling of all things electricity. Hydro One’s transmission and distribution systems have become less reliable, yet their costs are increasing, she notes.
Ontarians are very familiar with the botched job Wynne has made of the electricity file. Quantified, Lysyk notes we paid a collective $37 billion more than market rates between 2006 and 2014. In that time, the price paid by residential customers rose by 70 per cent. While prices reflected increased costs for dealing with an aging system, much of the overpayment can be traced to poor policies. The Liberals routinely ignored expert advice – and even common sense – in pursuit of ill-advised policies and political patronage and vote-buying.
Despite all the extra money we’ve been dumping into it, the electrical system continues to worsen, at a high risk of failure, she notes.
Overall, the report reveals that Ontario is led by an incompetent bunch that cares not for the good policy and the public good, but for channeling money to win votes.
The Ontario government is spending more money than it has. Spending more than the economy can keep up with. Spending more than even the inflation argument can attempt to justify. Spending more than we can afford to pay.
Such profligacy is hardly a surprise to anyone paying attention – a whole lot of people aren’t, if the last election is any indication. The latest report from the provincial Auditor General puts the spotlight firmly on the questionable leadership of Kathleen Wynne. As we’re stuck with her for a few more years, we can expect Ontario’s economic status to worsen as Wynne wastes billions and continues her record of doing the opposite of what’s right for the public.