Auditor cites poor return on investment
Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s 201718 annual report on the performance of the now-defunct Ontario Liberal government during its final fiscal year in power is a fitting nail in the coffin of their 15-year reign of error that started in 2003.
Yet again, it is rife with examples of Liberal misspending, incompetence and blatant and inappropriate political interference in decision-making.
When it comes to the waste presided over by former premier Kathleen Wynne and the Liberals in 2017-18, before voters reduced them to unofficial status in the June 7 election, Lysyk’s devastating assessment of their oversight of Ontario’s welfare system speaks volumes.
Lysyk reported that since the last audit of the Ontario Works program in 2009, costs have risen 55 per cent to more than $3 billion, with 450,000 recipients and their dependents now on the program.
The average number of monthly cases has increased by almost 25 per cent.
The length of time people collect benefits has nearly doubled from an average of 19 consecutive months to almost three years.
Only 10 to 13 per cent of recipients left Ontario Works for employment in each of the last five years — which is the purpose of the program — while the government’s social services ministry “did not have a target to reduce the time individuals depend on assistance.”
Lysyk concluded Ontario Works is “not meeting (its) mandate to help recipients obtain employment and become selfreliant.”
That’s consistent with her conclusions in most of the 15 value-for-money audits she performed this year.
They cite everything from lax financial oversight of student grants, to cost overruns and delays in light rail transit projects supervised by Metrolinx, to concerns about protecting the privacy of residents’ confidential data in Waterfront Toronto’s deal with Google-affiliated Sidewalk Labs, creating a mixed-use “smart city” community at Quayside.
“A central finding in almost all of our audits this year was that spending of public monies did not consistently result in the cost-effective achievement of anticipated program benefits, or the proactive addressing of program risks,” Lysyk wrote.
While Premier Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives praised Lysyk’s findings to the skies, they had best start preparing for next year, when they’ll be her target.