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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:01 pm    Post subject: Ontario Auditor General - goes after Wynne again Reply with quote

Auditor general slams Wynne government over hospital wait times, shoddy road construction

Bonnie Lysyk also finds cap and trade scheme will cost $2 billion a year, yet fail to hit emission targets

By Mike Crawley, CBC News Posted: Nov 30, 2016 11:52 AM ET| Last Updated: Nov 30, 2016 12:34 PM ET

Ontario's Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk has a bucketful of criticism for how Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government is spending tax dollars.

In her new annual report released Wednesday, Lysyk bemoans "excessive" wait times for hospital beds, reveals shoddy highway paving by contractors, and unveils that the government's own projection for its cap and trade program will see the majority of its cuts to greenhouse gas emissions come from outside Ontario, despite its $2 billion yearly price tag.

Cap and trade

Lysyk reveals that the province's cap and trade program, due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2017, is projected to make only one-fifth of its targeted greenhouse gas reductions in Ontario. The remainder, says Lysyk, are expected to happen in California and Quebec, as Ontario companies purchase carbon-emission permits from firms in that state and province that have already gone green.

The auditor projects the costs of cap and trade to businesses and individuals in the province over the next four years will total $8 billion. "These funds may be leaving the Ontario economy for no other purpose than to help the government claim it has met a target," she said in a statement.

Road construction

The auditor found that the Transportation Ministry is allowing contractors to pave the province's highways with "substandard" asphalt, forcing costly repairs within as little as a year on roads that should last 15 years.

"Premature cracks in pavement have significantly increased the ministry's highway-repair costs," Lysyk said in a statement. In a sample of paving contracts worth $143 million, she found that taxpayers had to spend another $23 million on repairs within three years.

She revealed the government pays contractors about $8 million a year in bonuses just for using the quality of asphalt set out in its contracts, and continued paying bonuses even though it knew some contractors tampered with asphalt samples.

The auditor also chastised the ministry for continuing to award projects to contractors who performed poor-quality work and breached safety regulations.

Health care

Much of Lysyk's report focuses on health care, including hospital wait times, payments to physicians, mental health services, and the eHealth agency's work on creating computerized medical records.
■Ontarians are waiting hours for life-saving surgery: auditor general

She finds emergency room patients who get admitted to hospital are waiting far too long for beds on the wards. Her survey of three large community hospitals found they are dramatically missing their Health Ministry targets for getting 90 per cent of patients into beds: it's taking 23 hours for intensive care unit patients and 37 hours for other acute-care wards.

Lysyk found more than 4,100 of Ontario's 31,000 hospital beds are occupied unnecessarily by patients waiting for long-term care or home care, contributing to the delays.

An audit of the province's 57 largest community hospitals also found wait times for elective surgeries have not improved in the past five years. This is blamed partly on inefficient use of operating rooms, typically closed evenings, weekends and in some cases many weeks during the summer.

The government's attempts to get family doctors to see patients more quickly come in for criticism. The auditor finds 57 per cent of Ontarians are waiting two days or longer to see their family doctor, up from 51 per cent in 2006-07. Lysyk found patients using walk-in clinics, emergency rooms and family doctors other than their own are costing taxpayers millions in duplicate payments. She said many doctors in group practices are failing to work the number of nights and weekends the ministry requires under its payment scheme.

Other findings in the auditor's report include:

The government is ramping up its use of public funds on advertisements that Lysyk says are designed solely to make the Wynne Liberals "look good." Spending on advertising jumped to $50 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year, up from $30 million the previous year. This comes after the government pushed through changes in the law to weaken the auditor's powers to reject government advertising as partisan.

Metrolinx is failing to take action against contractors for delays and poor-quality work in its billions of dollars worth of transit expansion projects in the Greater Toronto Area. The auditor found Metrolinx terminated one construction contract over poor performance, then rehired the same contractor for another job.

The province is spending more than $1 billion a year on employment programs that are having minimal success at getting participants into full-time jobs. The government is not collecting information about the job skills that are in demand in various regions of the province, so can't ensure it is directing funds toward the right kind of employment, the auditor concludes.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontarians are waiting hours for life-saving surgery: auditor general

Emergency rooms clogged, too, because of delays getting in to family doctors, AG says

By Laura Fraser, CBC News Posted: Nov 30, 2016 11:56 AM ET| Last Updated: Nov 30, 2016 12:57 PM ET

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found that Ontarians are waiting hours longer than they should for life-saving surgery.

​Ontario's hospitals are too slow in getting their most critically ill patients into both intensive care and the operating room, with roughly one quarter of those surveyed waiting four hours for life-saving surgical procedures, the province's auditor general found.

Myriad factors are causing the bottleneck in the province's emergency rooms, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reported, beginning at the family doctor's office.

Roughly 57 per cent of Ontarians say they have to wait two or more days to see a family doctor for non-urgent care, the audit found.

The trickle-down effect

And that then trickles down to hospitals, which Lysyk found are failing to provide urgent care within the province's targets.

Patients are waiting an average of 23 hours before doctors transfer them to intensive care – roughly triple the eight-hour target, according to the auditor general's findings at three sample hospitals in 2016. The province's guidelines say that 90 per cent of people need to be seen within that timeframe.

And there were still others who waited longer.

The audit found that some patients who needed acute care spent 37 hours in the emergency department.

More than 243,000 Ontarians who went to the emergency room last year could have been treated by their family doctor, Lysyk found. (stock photo/pixabay)

Delays for surgery

Wait times for surgeries – both elective and urgent operations – have also not improved in the last five years, according to the report.

In life-threatening cases, patients are supposed to be in the operating room within two hours. Instead, the audit found that about one quarter of patients in critical condition wait an average of four hours for surgery, according to the three hospitals surveyed.

The wait for emergency, but not immediately critical, operations also fell significantly below the targets. Patients are waiting an average of 18 hours for procedures like acute appendicitis – 10 to 16 hours longer than the province recommends.

"Issues with the scheduling and use of operating rooms have also contributed to patients with critical and life-threatening conditions waiting longer than they should for surgery," Lysyk said in her audit.

bonnie lysyk
Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario's auditor general, tabled her annual 2016 report in the legislature Wednesday. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

Waiting for long-term care

Community hospitals – which exclude specialty facilities like the Hospital for Sick Children – are also caring for people who are well enough to leave.

About 15 per cent of patients in the province's hospitals could have been treated at a long-term care centre, another medical facility or through home care, the auditor general's report found.

It's neither an ideal solution for those patients or for taxpayers.

Those waiting for long-term care beds are more likely to be overmedicated and to suffer falls in a hospital, according to the audit.

And another 37,550 people could have been treated in their stead, the report says.

Bypassing your family doctor

The province also still sees residents going to the emergency room unnecessarily. Roughly 243,000 people went to hospital with a condition that could have been treated by a family doctor, Lysyk found.
■Auditor general slams Wynne government over hospital wait times, shoddy road construction

"In addition to putting more strain on emergency room operations, these visits cost the province $62 million – including $33 million for patients whose family physicians had already been compensated to provide the same services," the report found.

It's unclear how many of those patients went to the emergency department because they could not get a swift appointment with their family doctor


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Highlights of Ontario auditor general's report

Report findings include eHealth spending, cap and trade, highway repairs and hospital care

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk released her annual report to the Legislature on Wednesday. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

By Robert BenzieQueen's Park Bureau Chief

Wed., Nov. 30, 2016

•Some $8 billion has been spent on eHealth Ontario and associated electronic medical records initiatives over 14 years that remain unfinished.

•Ontario’s cap-and-trade partnership with Quebec and California will do far more to lower emissions in the Golden State than here.

•More than $1 billion is spent annually on employment programs without sufficient information about where skilled workers are needed.

•Substandard asphalt on major highways is leading to expensive patch-up repairs just a few years after paving.

•The province needs to boost oversight of physician billing — six claimed to work 366 days in 2015-16 (including the extra day in February because this was a leap year.)

•Government advertising has increased by two-thirds — from $30 million annually to $49.9 million — since the auditor general’s powers to censor ads if she deemed them partisan were diminished.

•Youth mental-health agencies are swamped with 50 per cent more cases of hospitalization in recent years yet the government has not done an adequate analysis of the reasons.

•Hospital emergency rooms have seen a 21-per-cent increase in mental-health cases over the past five years, but there are still no province-wide standards for admission, treatment, and discharge of patients.

•Patients waited 37 hours in emergency wards for hospital beds and 23 hours for intensive car beds, while patients awaiting emergency surgery waited an average of 18 hours.

•Metrolinx re-hired a poorly performing contractor who installed a truss upside down on the Pickering GO pedestrian bridge over Highway 401 and subsequently gave the company another contract.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontario auditor general exposes litany of government snafus in annual report

Examples include cracking highways, overspending on eHealth records, shoddy Metrolinx oversight of contractors, and a climate change plan that will do more in California than Ontario.

Tunnelling work carries on in the 10-km underground tunnel of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) line. Ontario's auditor general slammed shoddy Metrolinx oversight of transit contractors in her annual report.

Tunnelling work carries on in the 10-km underground tunnel of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (LRT) line. Ontario's auditor general slammed shoddy Metrolinx oversight of transit contractors in her annual report. (Metrolinx)

By Robert BenzieQueen's Park Bureau Chief
Rob FergusonQueen's Park Bureau
Kristin RushowyQueen's Park Bureau

Wed., Nov. 30, 2016

Cracking highways, $8 billion spent on still-incomplete eHealth electronic medical records, a comedy of errors surrounding shoddy Metrolinx oversight of transit contractors, and a climate change plan that will do more in California than Ontario.

Those are some of a litany of government snafus exposed by auditor general Bonnie Lysyk in her annual two-volume, 1,063-page report to the Legislature on Wednesday.

The independent watchdog said there was a common theme that ran through her 13 value-for-money audits this year.

“It is important for everyone doing business with the government to keep in mind the concept of shared responsibility for the use of taxpayer money to deliver services, protect the environment, or design and build infrastructure,” said Lysyk.

Her audit of eHealth Ontario found the controversial agency’s work remained unfinished some 14 years after the computerized health records program was formally launched.

“The initiative has certainly advanced since our last audit in 2009,” said Lysyk.

“However it is still not possible to say if it is on budget because the government never set an overall budget,” she said.

“In effect, we cannot say if $8 billion is a reasonable figure.”

That amount includes $3 billion spent by eHealth, $1 billion by the Ministry of Health and agencies such as Cancer Care Ontario, and $4 billion by community care access centres across the province.


Highlights of auditor general's report

Read the Ontario auditor general's annual report: Volume 1

Read the Ontario auditor general's annual report: Volume 2END

As first disclosed by the Star on Oct. 13, the government was so worried about Lysyk’s audit that it retained former TD Bank CEO Ed Clark, Premier Kathleen Wynne’s business guru, to report back with recommendations for improvement.

Last week in a 48-page review, Clark said while eHealth‎ is doing a good job, its mandate should be changed so it has “an explicit focus on technology service delivery and to ensure the agency is held to account for delivery” of those services.

The agency has been dogged by problems, including an expense-account scandal where private consultants earning $3,000 a day billed taxpayers for $3.99 Choco-Bite cookies and $1.65 Tim Hortons tea.

Lysyk found the seven main eHealth projects former premier Dalton McGuinty’s government deemed as priorities in 2010 were only about 80 per cent done — despite a 2015 deadline for completion. Those are now expected to be finished by March.

The auditor also expressed concern that Ontario’s highways are cracking up — long before they should — in some cases just a year or two after being repaved.

That’s because contractors are using poor quality asphalt, costing the government millions in repairs and adding to drivers’ frustrations.

The poor pavement problem was identified some 16 years ago — the diluted asphalt can’t withstand the cold winter weather — yet oversight of testing is lax, leading to tampering.

Queen’s Park has also failed to deal with questionable road contractors and, in fact, continues to pay some bonuses and allows them to bid on future jobs.

The auditor general cited one case where a portion of Highway 7 was in disrepair a year after being paved.

On Highway 403, paving in 2006 was redone in 2008 and again in 2011, and is estimated repairs will be needed yet again, costing millions. The company in question received $686,000 bonus payout.

Roads are supposed to last 15 years before needing upgrades.

While the Ministry of Transportation may say road quality has gone up 8 per cent over the last decade, the auditor general countered that could include roads that have been repaved as cracks repairs are not tracked.

The GTA’s regional transit agency Metrolinx has gone off the rails when it comes to properly completing projects on time and on budget, Lysyk said, citing a litany of problems including lax oversight of work that cost taxpayers “significant amounts.”

She highlighted a pedestrian bridge over 14 lanes of Highway 401 to the GO station at Pickering, in which an unnamed contractor made mistakes such as installing a bridge truss upside down, but was hired back for phase two of the project and was eventually fired after continued “poor performance” that included careless welding that will take $1 million to fix.

And yet the company, which was paid fully for the first contract and 99 per cent of the value of the second contract, was hired for another $39-million project.

“Metroxlinx does not have a process in place to identify poorly performing contractors when it is making the decision to award contracts,” Lysyk said, noting the Pickering bridge contractor had “no experience” installing trusses.

“Thus, contractors can take advantage of this and continue to perform poorly without repercussions.”

Metrolinx, which operates GO Transit, also “rarely takes action” against contractors for missing deadlines, resulting in budget overruns, the audit concluded.

Lysyk cited an example where errors by design consultants in a random sample of six projects cost taxpayers an extra $22.5 million, and another case where projects such as the Pickering GO parking garage and Burlington GO station building completed up to 25 months behind schedule cost $2 million for consultants to shepherd them to completion.

The audit also found Metrolinx “does not know that it is getting what it pays for” in rail contracts with CN and CP, with CN’s construction charges up to 130 per cent higher than a competitor’s and no questions asked by the transit agency.

On one project, Metrolinx paid for new parts in railway construction and got used ones instead.

“It does not check to ensure that parts are new,” said Lysyk.

While public transit does help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the auditor raised questions about the government’s much-ballyhooed climate-change scheme.

She warned the cap-and-trade program won’t come close to meeting its 2020 target for reducing emissions, echoing concerns recently raised by the province’s environmental commissioner.

Just 3.8 megatonnes of the projected 18.7 in reduced emissions are likely to be in Ontario — with the province planning to “take the credit” for its own as well as the 14.9 megatonnes that are actually cut in Quebec and California.

“The (environment) ministry has not publicly said that it intends to achieve Ontario’s target by counting reductions achieved in its partner jurisdictions,” says the report.

Because the province is planning to link its system — something the auditor general notes has not been formally signed off on — it allows polluters to purchase allowances from outside the province if available.

That could even allow businesses to buy extra emission allowances, hampering conservation efforts.

She said that through the allowances, Quebec and California could receive $466 million by 2020 and some $2.2 billion “will leave the Ontario economy” by 2030.

The auditor general also took the government to task for a 66-per-cent hike in spending on advertising after Wynne “weakened” a law banning partisan ads at taxpayer expense.

The $49.9 million included a spate of ads on the now-defunct Ontario Retirement Pension Plan and “self-congratulatory” spots, including one about improving the environment that depicted animals clapping.

“Ontarians have, in the past year, paid millions of dollars for advertising designed primarily to present the government in a positive light rather than to inform,” Lysyk wrote in her report.

She also slammed an ad that claimed “more Ontario students are reaching their potential than ever before” and boasting of a “world-class” school system that her office would have rejected before the Government Advertising Act was watered down.

“These vague scripts would not have passed under the previous act because they appeared aimed at fostering a positive impression of the government and did not provide the public with any useful information.”


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( wynne is wasting millions $ of our tax dollars on tv ads , that seem to have no purpose and are purely partisan , anyone remember the pension plan ads ? for the imaginary Ontario pension plan she dreamed up )

Ontario spending millions on government ads that are partisan: auditor

By The Canadian Press — Nov 30 2016

TORONTO — Ontario's auditor general says taxpayers have footed the bill for millions of dollars in government advertising that is actually partisan.

Bonnie Lysyk warned last year that changes the government made to advertising rules could see her office reduced to a rubber stamp for ads even if she feels they're partisan.

The old rules banned ads as partisan if the intent was to foster a positive impression of government or a negative impression of its critics, but the new rules say an ad is partisan only if it uses an elected member's picture, name or voice, the colour or logo associated with the political party or direct criticism of a party or member of the legislature.

Lysyk lists in her annual report today several government ads that she would have flagged under the old rules as misleading or self-congratulatory, as opposed to giving the public information.

The government spent $8.1 million advertising the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, which was scrapped after an agreement to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, and Lysyk says she would have rejected some of those ads under the old rules.

Nearly $3 million was spent on a series of ad campaigns about the environment that Lysyk says could be seen as self-congratulatory or misleading.

The Canadian Press


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontario's climate and environment plans full of gaps, says AG

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found big unknowns in the province’s green policies.

Ainslie Cruickshank

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Substantial gaps exist in Ontario’s environmental and climate change policies that could cost the province economically and endanger human and environmental health, the province’s auditor general concluded in her annual report released Wednesday.

Bonnie Lysyk raised significant concerns regarding Ontario’s cap and trade program, environmental assessment process, and environmental approvals process and identified major issues with the policies developed and implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Cap and Trade

Ontario’s cap and trade initiative, set to begin in January, won’t significantly lower emissions by 2020, despite heavy costs to Ontario businesses, Lysyk found.

Under cap and trade large emitters will be required to buy allowances to emit greenhouse gases. Ontario plans to join Quebec and California’s cap and trade system in 2018, which will allow emitters to trade allowances between the three jurisdictions.

Over the program’s first four years Ontario consumers and businesses are expected to pay $8 billion more to the Ontario government, Lysyk notes.

On top of those costs, Ontario emitters are also expected to pay up to $466 million more between 2017 and 2020 to buy allowances from Quebec and California. Those payments could increase to $2.2 billion by 2030.

Despite high costs to consumers and businesses, the cap and trade program and the revenue it raises are expected reduce emissions by less than 3.8 Mt – or less than 20 per cent of the emission reductions Ontario plans to make by 2020.

The province is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 18.7 Mt, 15 per cent below 1990 levels.

To make up the remaining 80 per cent of targeted reductions the government is planning to count emissions reductions in Quebec and California that result from the purchase of allowances by Ontario businesses, the auditor notes.

That could result in double reporting of emissions reductions between the three jurisdictions, she said in a release, adding that the government doesn’t actually know whether Ontario’s participation in the joint carbon market will result in further GHG reductions in Quebec and California.

“Without that sort of study, these funds may be leaving the Ontario economy for no purpose other than to help the government claim it has met a target,” she said.

In its response to the auditor’s report, the ministry committed to working with Quebec and California to ensure no double reporting of emissions reductions occurs.

Environmental assessments

Lysyk also identified major concerns with Ontario’s environmental assessment process, which she said hasn’t kept up with the times.

While the government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it hasn’t clarified how environmental assessments should consider potential climate change impacts.

Ontario is also the only province in Canada that doesn’t require environmental assessments for private-sector mining and chemical manufacturing projects, the auditor found.

“Taxpayers could be impacted financially, as the province may eventually have to pay to clean up these projects,” Lysyk said in a release.

Already, the province is liable for $1.2 billion to clean up 47 contaminated mine sites, the audit found.

The 40-year old Environmental Assessment Act only requires assessments for private sector projects related to electricity generation and transmission, waste management, and large municipal infrastructure projects.

While the act requires assessments for public sector projects, its inadequacies mean very few projects are actually assessed.

The legislation doesn’t specify which public projects must be assessed and the government has enacted legislation to exempt certain projects – including renewable energy projects, Lysyk found.

Aside from some assessments for forest management plans, Lysyk found that the government hasn’t completed an environmental assessment for any of its plans or programs in the last 20 years.

Environmental approvals

An ineffective approval process for regulating pollution further weakens the province’s environmental regime, the auditor concluded.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Changed has not only failed to inspect about 80 per cent of the large polluters it has approved in the last 15 years, it also has insufficient information about the environmental threat those polluters pose, Lysyk found.

Inspections the province has conducted found that between 20 and 47 per cent of polluters were violating the conditions of their environmental approvals, the auditor found.

But the penalties for violations aren’t strong enough to deter re-offense, the report notes.

Of further concern, the audit found that there may be a significant number of polluters operating without environmental approvals but the ministry doesn’t have a proactive system for identifying them.

Ultimately, the deficiencies in the program threaten Ontario’s environment and human health, the audit found.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontario AG says government spending millions on partisan ads

Auditor general says her office has been reduced to a ‘rubber stamp’ on ads

Allison Jones — Canadian Press

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

TORONTO – Ontario’s taxpayers have footed the bill for millions of dollars in government advertising that actually appears partisan, the auditor general said Wednesday, and millions more in social media ads her office isn’t allowed to review.

“We cautioned when the government changed the law in 2015 that it was opening the door to this sort of thing,” Bonnie Lysyk said as she released her annual report. “Sure enough, the government walked right through that open door.”

Changes the government made to advertising rules removed the auditor’s discretionary powers to approve or reject ads, she said, reducing her office to a rubber stamp.

The old rules banned ads as partisan if the intent was to foster a positive impression of government or a negative impression of its critics, but the new rules say an ad is partisan only if it uses an elected member’s picture, name or voice, the colour or logo associated with the political party or direct criticism of a party or member of the legislature.

Government ads also used to have to inform people about programs, policies, services or their rights and responsibilities, change social behaviour or promote Ontario.

Of the approximately $50 million in government ads during the last fiscal year, Lysyk said she would have flagged several under the old rules as misleading or self-congratulatory, as opposed to giving the public information.

Treasury Board President Liz Sandals defended the new rules as “the most aggressive government advertising legislation of any jurisdiction in Canada.” She disputed that any were self-congratulatory.

“Obviously the auditor has an opinion there and what I would say is that the information that is being conveyed in those ads is factually true,” she said.

The government spent $8.1 million advertising the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, which was scrapped after an agreement to enhance the Canada Pension Plan, and Lysyk says she would have rejected some of those ads under the old rules.

Government money was used to reinforce a partisan message, Lysyk said, as publicly funded ads ran on radio and digital at the same time as Ontario Liberal Party television spots featured the premier talking about retirement security.

The government also continued advertising after the ORPP was scrapped in favour of CPP expansion, in effect using provincial dollars to advertise a federal program, she suggested.

Nearly $3 million was spent on a series of ad campaigns about the environment that Lysyk said could be seen as self-congratulatory or misleading.

Ads about the upcoming cap-and-trade plan “left the overall impression that industry will be financing the program, even though the Ontario consumer will bear most of the cost through increased home heating, electricity and fuel costs,” she said in the report.

In the fiscal 2015-16 year, the government spent $3.8 million on digital ads exempt from auditor review, she said. The auditor general’s office can review digital ads “that a government proposes to pay to have displayed on a website,” but the rules exempt ads on social media, Lysyk said.

Sandals suggested social media ads would be difficult to control.

“At some point you get into: what are people as individuals saying on social media sites?” she said. “That’s freedom of speech, but in terms of actual, paid government advertising…digital advertising actually does fall now within the jurisdiction of the auditor general.”


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontario paid $1B for job retraining — without knowing which industries needed workers: AG

Only 15% of people who went through skills training found a job in their new field, AG says

By Laura Fraser, CBC News Posted: Nov 30, 2016 5:43 PM ET| Last Updated: Nov 30, 2016 5:43 PM ET

Although Ontario poured more than $1 billion into employment retraining programs last year, fewer than 15 per cent of graduates found a job in their new field, according to a blistering report from the province's auditor general Wednesday.

That's largely because of a gap Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk found within the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour: it failed to track where the market most needed new workers.

And taxpayers got hit twice.

Not only did Lysyk question whether the program spending was worthwhile — but fewer than 38 per cent of people found any type of full-time job after their retraining, translating into less income tax revenue for the province.

Bonnie Lysyk Pan Am Games security contracts
Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said the province needs to analyze the labour market when deciding how to fund skills training. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

As it stands, Ontarians laid off from one job may be trained for another industry that doesn't need new labour.

"Our audit found that key programs offered by Employment Ontario are not effective in helping Ontarians find full-time work," the audit said. "The Ministry lacks the details and timely information it needs to ensure that funding is directed toward areas that will bring sustainable employment."

To change that, Lysyk recommended the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour draw on the labour market data it already pays community-based boards across the province $6 million to collect.

It should then use that information to ensure that skills-training funding aligns with the trades and professions where employees are in demand, the auditor said.

Playing hooky

And then there are those who don't retrain at all — a grown-up version of skipping class that wastes millions in public funds.

Those playing hooky from their retraining programs are legally obligated to return any advances the province paid them to cover their education. The same principle stands for those students who don't submit receipts.

Instead, the auditor general found that the ministry decided to write off $26.6 million over three years that it could have legally collected.

Provincial officials acknowledged that the government has struggled to recoup these advances. And in its response to the auditor's findings, the ministry issued a statement saying that it now requires participants to file receipts every quarter.

But Lysyk called for an even stricter approach.

The auditor said the province should only give students up to two months of funding before starting a retraining program. Any subsequent expenses should be reimbursed only after a receipt has been submitted, the audit recommends.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( cap and trade isn't going to come cheap it appears )

November 30, 2016 12:26 pm Updated: November 30, 2016 2:05 pm

Ontario auditor general report reveals cap and trade to cost $8B in first years

By Allison Jones The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Ontario’s cap-and-trade program will cost the province’s consumers and businesses $8 billion dollars in its first years of operation to get minimal greenhouse gas reductions, the auditor general said Wednesday.

In her annual report, Bonnie Lysyk said households will pay an average of $156 next year in added costs on gasoline and natural gas, rising to $210 in 2019 plus another $75 that year in indirect costs on goods and services.

The government has also earmarked $1.32 billion out of the expected $8 billion in projected cap-and-trade revenue to help offset the cost of residential and business electricity bills, but it doesn’t say how, Lysyk’s report said.

And the impact will likely be marginal, she said. Even with a subsidy, the average household electricity bill is projected to increase 23 per cent from 2015 to 2020, Lysyk found.

“Such increased electricity costs may make natural gas, which is responsible for significantly more greenhouse gas emission than cleaner energy sources like solar, hydro, nuclear and wind, an even more economical option,” she wrote.

The carbon pricing scheme, set to come into effect Jan. 1, will likely achieve fewer than 20 per cent of the emission reductions the government wants to see by 2020, Lysyk said.

The Liberal government has set an emissions reduction target for that year of 15 per cent below 1990 levels, which would require an estimated 18.7 megatonnes of reductions.

But because the system, which requires polluters to buy emissions allowances, will link with Quebec and California in 2018 the government plans to count emission reductions achieved in those jurisdictions, Lysyk said.

“The potential exists for double reporting of emission reductions between California, Quebec and Ontario,” she said.

Lysyk’s conclusions echo those of the environmental commissioner, who recently said that Ontario’s cap-and-trade program won’t actually limit greenhouse gas emissions through to 2020 because it will often be cheaper for Ontario polluters to purchase California allowances.

Environment Minister Glen Murray defended the cap-and-trade plan, saying it is the best tool to both reduce greenhouse gas pollution and minimize the financial impact on families and businesses.

“A reduction in greenhouse gas pollution anywhere, not just locally, benefits us all,” he said.

The government currently regulates polluters through an Environmental Approvals program, but Lysyk found that about 80 per cent of emitters granted approvals in the last 15 years have never been inspected.

Of those the government did inspect over the last five years, about one-third were violating the conditions of their approvals, the auditor said.

The government doesn’t monitor more than 200,000 approvals issued more than 15 years ago and it doesn’t even know how many of those emitters are still operating, Lysyk found.

READ MORE: Ontario consumers won’t see cost of cap-and-trade plan on natural gas bills

The auditor also looked at Ontario’s environmental assessment process, finding it lacking in areas. Ontario is the only province that doesn’t require environmental assessments for private-sector mining and chemical manufacturing projects, she said.

Four former private-sector mineral extraction sites alone will cost nearly $1 billion to clean up, Lysyk found.

Murray said the approvals process is “among the most protective in North America,” but hasn’t necessarily “kept pace with the demands of Ontario’s growing economy.” The ministry will look at how to better identify emitters operating without proper approvals and ensure it is collecting amounts that represent true clean-up costs.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

November 30, 2016 12:09 pm Updated: November 30, 2016 7:45 pm

Poor oversight of Ontario road and transit contracts cause for concern: auditor general

By Keith Leslie The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Ontario’s government watchdog says taxpayers spend millions of dollars paying repair bills for shoddy work by contractors hired for road maintenance and public transit projects, including part of one bridge that was installed upside down.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk also warns of serious shortcomings in the health-care system, and predicts cap-and-trade will cost businesses and individuals $8 billion between 2017 and 2020 but won’t meet the emissions reduction target.

In her annual report, Lysyk said pavement on some Ontario roads and highways that is supposed to last 10 to 15 years starts to crack after just two or three.

“For a sample of five highway jobs…we calculated that the ministry paid $23 million for repairs after one-to-three years, on top of the $143 million to initially pave these highways that should have lasted 15 years,” reported Lysyk.

Contractors were “tampering with asphalt samples” so they could obtain part of the $8.8 million the ministry paid in bonuses to include the quality of asphalt they “are always expected to do anyway,” added Lysyk.

The ministry agreed to a request from asphalt producers and cement suppliers to delay plans to implement a second aging test to identify asphalt that is likely to start breaking up before it should.

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said he was “not happy” to see the report, and promised an “extended aging” test for asphalt would be included in all road maintenance contracts by next year. But Del Duca wasn’t pinning as much of the blame on shoddy work as the auditor general did.

“There was an understanding that asphalt in some cases wasn’t performing as it should,” he said. “We have a unique climate in Ontario, and that factored into the discussions, some of the research and analysis.”

WATCH: Ontario’s auditor general says the province’s public transportation agency isn’t being as careful as it could be managing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects. As Sean O’Shea reports, she discovered a pedestrian bridge truss was installed upside down during an audit.

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The province spent about $6.1 billion on 2,100 highway projects over five years, with $1.4 billion of that going to road paving. The auditor found the Ministry of Transportation allowed the Ontario Road Builders’ Association “to influence its internal operational policies to benefit contractors rather than the ministry.”

Lysyk said Metrolinx doesn’t hold contractors and design consultants accountable for projects that are late or inadequate, and like the ministry of transportation, still awards new work to contractors that performed poorly in the past.

“The lack of a process to hold construction contractors accountable contributes to projects being completed late, inconveniences commuters and adds extra costs for Metrolinx and taxpayers,” said Lysyk.

Metrolinx is now responsible for $1 in every $7 dollars of government capital spending, but the auditor found the agency often doesn’t know if it’s getting what it pays for. CN admitted it charged Metrolinx for new rail when it actually provided recycled rail.

One contractor working on a pedestrian bridge over Highway 401 in Pickering was so bad Metrolinx had to take over its duties, but then hired the same contractor, who caused “significant damage” to the bridge in phase two. The contractor then installed one of the bridge trusses upside down, but was still paid $19 million.

Lysyk’s report also takes the Liberals to task for growing wait times in emergency rooms, and said waits for elective surgeries at Ontario’s largest hospitals have not improved in five years, but surgical suites are sitting empty a lot of the time.

“Many hospitals are closing most of them on evenings, weekends, statutory holidays, March break and for two to 10 weeks during the summer,” she said.

The auditor also found the Ministry of Health does not investigate inappropriate or anomalous billings by doctors even though it spends $11.6 billion a year for physician compensation. Nine specialists claimed to work over 360 days in fiscal 2015/16, with six of them billing for the full 366 days.

“Since the beginning of 2013, the ministry has nor proactively pursued recovery of overpayments,” said Lysyk.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the government was trying to get back the money over billed by some doctors.

“We need to strengthen our mechanism for identifying them and recouping (the money),” he said.

The auditor said the ministry often ends up paying twice for the same patient when someone who signed up with a Family Health Team visits a walk-in clinic.

“The patient-enrolment payment model the province adopted a decade ago cost $522 million more in 2015 than it would have under the fee-for-service model,” she said. “In part, that’s because about 1.8 million patients enrolled in group practices did not see their doctors that year, but the physicians were still paid $243 million for having them enrolled.”

Lysyk was very critical of the province’s services for children and adults with mental health issues.

“Despite a 50-per-cent increase in hospitalization of children and youth with mental health problems since 2008/09, the province has not analyzed the reasons for the increase or taken steps to address it,” she said.

The report also notes that Ontario’s health-care sector spent $8 billion over the last 14 years to implement electronic health records but still hasn’t created them for everyone.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2016 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Natural gas ratepayers should see cap and trade costs on bills, Ontario auditor general says

The Liberal government’s plan to have companies buy and sell pollution credits to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions is expected to add about $5 a month to home heating costs

Allison Jones — Canadian Press

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

TORONTO – A survey conducted at the behest of the auditor general suggests nearly all Ontarians who heat their home using natural gas want to see the costs of cap and trade clearly displayed on their bills – and so does the auditor herself.

The Liberal government’s plan to have companies buy and sell pollution credits to reduce Ontario’s greenhouse gas emissions is expected to add about $5 a month to home heating costs, but those increases will be buried in the “delivery” line on natural gas bills.

The Ontario Energy Board announced this summer that cost impacts of cap and trade, which comes into effect Jan. 1, will not appear as a separate line item on consumers’ bills for natural gas, which is used to heat most homes in the province.

Ontario’s auditor general commissioned a survey of natural gas ratepayers and it found that 89 per cent of respondents “thought it important to disclose the impact of cap and trade on natural gas bills,” according to the auditor’s recent annual report.

Deep within Bonnie Lysyk’s 800-page report on health services, highway contractors, climate change initiatives and more, is a reference to the survey and an urging from the auditor that the OEB change its mind.

“The Office of the Auditor General feels that more transparency is still required by disclosing the portion of charges in natural gas bills attributable to the cap-and-trade program,” she wrote in the report.

The OEB’s response to the auditor was that it will hold a hearing that will assess the “reasonableness of the cost consequences” of the natural gas distributors’ cap-and-trade compliance plans, and in the public notice for that hearing there will be a mention of the $5 monthly estimated impact on bills.

The OEB said in a statement that administering cap and trade will become a regular part of utility business.

“All of the natural gas utility business costs are within the delivery line so it just makes sense to include it there,” wrote spokesman Karen Evans. Utilities will be expected to provide consumers with ongoing information about the program, she added.

Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault was not available Thursday or Friday to answer questions, but he said in an emailed statement that the decision is up to the OEB and it is an independent regulator.

“As always, the OEB makes decisions to recover necessary system costs from ratepayers and includes these recovery fees in the line items they deem most appropriate,” he wrote. “The government respects the authority of the Ontario Energy Board in this regard.”

The OEB got feedback from 80 stakeholder groups on whether to include a separate line item, and 75 of them wanted to see costs broken out on consumers’ bills, the auditor noted, including the Independent Electricity System Operator, and Enbridge and Union Gas themselves.

Both the ratepayers and the gas companies want the costs clearly spelled out on bills, but the OEB is hiding them because the Liberal government wants them do, said Progressive Conservative energy critic John Yakabuski.

“It’s political,” he said. “There’s no question it’s political. They don’t want you to know what cap and trade is costing you.”

NDP energy critic Peter Tabuns said he doesn’t buy the government’s line that the OEB is independent and can’t be ordered to disclose the cap-and-trade costs.

“That’s not true, they tell them what to do all the time,” Tabuns said. “When you talk to people who work or have worked in the Ministry of Energy in the past, the OEB is not considered much bigger than a road bump when it comes to making things happen the way ministers want them to happen.”

Quebec and British Columbia include the cost of carbon pricing as a separate line item on bills.

Cap and trade is also expected to add about 4.3 cents a litre to the price of gasoline.

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Ontario Auditor General - goes after Wynne again

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