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RCO





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Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:03 am    Post subject: Ontario's debt actually $10 billion higher Reply with quote

( it appears the Ontario government had been trying to claim several pension funds as assets in an effort to make the debt look smaller but the auditor doesn't think it should be claiming them as assets so the debt is really $10 billion dollars higher than before )


Spat with AG sees Ontario debt soar

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)





Shawn Jeffords, Toronto Sun
Oct 3, 2016
, Last Updated: 4:22 PM ET


TORONTO - With the stroke of a pen, Ontario's debt jumped by $10.7 billion Monday.

A standoff, quietly brewing behind the scenes for weeks between the province's auditor general and the Ministry of Finance, has ended with the government grudgingly declaring the increase in net debt.

The new numbers also mean Ontario's deficit increased $1.5 billion in 2015.

The change comes as the government argues with auditor general Bonnie Lysyk over accounting rules surrounding two of Ontario's largest public pensions - the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union Pension Plan. Since 2001, the government says it has listed the fund assets.

But the AG warned earlier this fall that she disagreed with the practice because the government had no actual means to access the cash in each fund and instructed the government to no longer list the billions in each as assets.

During a hastily arranged technical briefing and press conference, the government said they will ask for an independent third-party review of the accounting practice. But in the meantime, they released unaudited financial statements from 2015-16.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Lysyk says she is "disappointed" the government released the financial statements without her opinion, as is the normal practice.

“This is the first time in the history of Ontario that the statements have been released without the audit opinion,” Lysyk said.


http://cnews.canoe.com/CNEWS/C.....71709.html
RCO





Joined: 02 Mar 2009
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Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( just another example of why wynne's government cannot be trusted they are trying to make things up and cook up the books to look better than they really are , they should of known better than to claim pension funds they cannot even access or use as assets , that made no sense other than to make debt look smaller than it really was )



Accounting spat leads to differing Ontario deficit figures


Depending on whom you believe, Ontario’s deficit last year was either $3.5 billion or $5 billion.



Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk no longer believes the government should include on its bottom line its share of assets from the teachers’ and public servants’ pension funds that it co-sponsors.


By Robert BenzieQueen's Park Bureau Chief

Mon., Oct. 3, 2016



Depending on whom you believe, Ontario’s deficit last year was either $3.5 billion or $5 billion.

And the province’s net debt was either $294.5 billion or $305.2 billion.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Treasury Board President Liz Sandals insist it’s the former.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk says it’s the latter.

That’s because she no longer believes the government should include on its bottom line its share of assets from the teachers’ and public servants’ pension funds that it co-sponsors.


Against the backdrop of the accounting dispute, Sousa and Sandals on Monday released an unaudited version of the province’s public accounts for the fiscal year that ended March 31.

“I’m disappointed that the government decided that this was the appropriate thing to do,” Lysyk, an independent watchdog, said of the Liberals’ extraordinary move.

While the ministers agreed to her deficit and debt numbers for the time being, there will be an independent review by experts of accounting practices in coming months that could result in the lower figures being used.

Sousa stressed the province will balance the books in next year’s budget regardless of the interpretation of the $10.7 billion in pension assets.

“The impact of this change resulted in our deficit number being $1.5 billion higher than it otherwise would have been in the 2015-16 had we used the same standards employed for the past 14 years,” the finance minister said, noting the auditor general signed off on the pension assets in previous years.

“These standards have been consistently accepted by the past four auditors — including the current auditor general,” he said.

“This year — two weeks before the Sept. 27 deadline for the tabling of public accounts — we learned in writing from the auditor general of her new interpretation of the accounting treatment for our jointly sponsored pension funds.”

Asked what changed, Lysyk said her office took a closer look at the government’s claim to the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union Pension Plan and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which it co-sponsors.

“I had my staff review that asset much more than in past years,” she told the Star, concluding that, because the government does not have ready access to the funds, they should not be considered assets.

While the government and the auditor have been at odds over issues as disparate as the cost of green energy and her diminished authority over reviewing government advertising, Sandals insisted the new disagreement is just about accounting.

“This really, truly, is not about politics,” the treasury board president said.

But Progressive Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli (Nipissing) accused the Liberals of trying to “usurp” the auditor general’s independence and authority.

“When the auditor finds an $11 billion hole in the budget the Liberal accounting, the Liberal answer, is to release this unaudited report,” said Fedeli, referring to the $10.7 billion.

“They’re in full-blown panic mode. There were 40 or 50 Liberal staffers here,” he said of the joint Sousa and Sandals media briefing Monday afternoon.

“Now, I think the accounting world will have even larger questions.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/10/03/accounting-spat-leads-to-differing-ontario-deficit-figures.html
Bugs





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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We should have expected this. Have they been honest about anything?

Never forget, folks, the present federal government is a 'spin-off' from this one. Expect the same quality of decision-making from that bunch as well.
RCO





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PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2016 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:
We should have expected this. Have they been honest about anything?

Never forget, folks, the present federal government is a 'spin-off' from this one. Expect the same quality of decision-making from that bunch as well.



wynne is very eager to campaign on there being no deficit next election , even though there is a massive debt of $300 billion were suppose to be jumping for joy there is no deficit .
I think if more people understood the difference between the 2 and how serious having a $300 billion dollar debt was for a province the size of Ontario people would be very concerned . just the interest payments alone on this debt are massive and one of the provinces biggest expenses .

it also shows the Ontario liberals numbers can't be trusted if they tried to pull this stunt , what other numbers are cooked up or half true ?
Bugs





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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exactly. The debt comes to about $23,000 per capita. Put better, the average family -- with one kid -- would be in debt to the tune of $70,000, on top of their share of the federal debt. It doesn't matter what column they put the teachers' pensions in, it doesn't change the big picture much.

How can Wynne possibly get another term without the Progressive Conservatives committing suicide first? Perhaps they can find a way. Perhaps John Tory can offer the new leader some advice on that.
RCO





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PostPosted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bugs wrote:
Exactly. The debt comes to about $23,000 per capita. Put better, the average family -- with one kid -- would be in debt to the tune of $70,000, on top of their share of the federal debt. It doesn't matter what column they put the teachers' pensions in, it doesn't change the big picture much.

How can Wynne possibly get another term without the Progressive Conservatives committing suicide first? Perhaps they can find a way. Perhaps John Tory can offer the new leader some advice on that.



this dispute strikes me as meaningless , so what if the liberals win and are allowed to claim pension funds as assets , they have no access to that money and province still $300 billion dollars in debt , the problem is not solved at all by claiming that money against debt it just helps to cover it up a bit and makes amount seem smaller

I don't even want to think what the pc's would have to do to not win or at least win a minority at this point . but first issue of concern should be carbon taxes and why is the Ontario pc's not against them more strongly ? Brown has said nothing at all so far about trudeau's declaration there must be one in every province . it seems pc's are silent on the issue as recent news releases on there site mention nothing about this carbon tax or how destructive it be to Ontario's economy . I doubt a vote among grassroots ont pc supporters would find any support for trudeau's plan ? . wynne's cap and trade plan or carbon tax is going to do nothing for the environment of Ontario and only generate her more money to spend on what she see's fit
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a very simple run of thumb for asset calculation in this case;
If needed could you liquidate it and get access to its value?.

In the case of the Pension Fund Assets, the AG seems to be saying the answer is no, and if the answer is no then its not a Provincial Asset.
RCO





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Location: Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cosmostein wrote:
There is a very simple run of thumb for asset calculation in this case;
If needed could you liquidate it and get access to its value?.

In the case of the Pension Fund Assets, the AG seems to be saying the answer is no, and if the answer is no then its not a Provincial Asset.


this was all clearly a trick by the Ontario liberals to make things look a bit better than they really were , it makes no sense to claim the teachers pension plan as an asset . they have no access to the money and aren't even the ones running it and under no circumstance could they take all that money or any of that money and use it to pay down the debt , the teachers would like riot at the legislature if they did .

if was just an accounting trick to make the books look better for people dumb enough to believe wynne , the auditor was right to point this error out for the people of Ontario to realise what they were up to
RCO





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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( this story was first uncovered this fall and has yet to be resolved , wynne is certain she has the right to count the pension funds as a government asset and the auditor feels they should not count cause they don't have access or actually own the funds )


Auditor refuses to back down in $10.7B pension feud


Ontario’s legislative watchdog is escalating a $10.7 billion standoff with the provincial government over funded pension surpluses.


Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk is demanding proof “in writing” from the unions that they are okay with the government booking taxpayer-funded pension surpluses for accounting purposes.




By Robert BenzieQueen's Park Bureau Chief

Thu., Feb. 16, 2017


Ontario’s legislative watchdog is escalating a $10.7 billion standoff with the provincial government over taxpayer-funded pension surpluses.

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk insisted Thursday the co-sponsored Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union Pension Plan and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan shouldn’t be booked as assets because the government does not have ready access to the funds.

And Lysyk is demanding proof “in writing” from the unions that they are okay with the government booking the surpluses a public asset for accounting purposes.

“Show me the letter that says you can use that pension money with permission – with an agreement,” the auditor told reporters at Queen’s Park.

There has been no suggestion the government intends to dip into the pension funds, which would be illegal. The question is whether the pension surplus can be counted as an asset or not at all.

The accounting dispute is worth $1.5 billion to the province’s bottom line this year and could be the difference between Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals balancing the books or remaining in deficit.

On Monday, a panel of accounting experts – led by Tricia O’Malley, chair of the Canadian Actuarial Standards Oversight Council – concluded the funds are indeed a public asset.

Treasury Board President Liz Sandals noted O’Malley’s panel “concluded that the government does not need a letter from either of the unions because the joint pension agreements spell out how the surplus will be dealt with.”

“There are no public sector accounting standard requirements for any additional letter to be in place specifying when or by how much contributions will be reduced beyond the joint pension plan agreements already in place,” she said.

Sandals said the government will therefore continue to book the $10.7 billion as an asset offsetting future pension contributions.

“Recognizing the asset will provide an accurate representation of the province’s financial position. This means that the province will continue to represent pension assets on its financial statements as it has since 2001.”

But Lysyk, who blindsided the provincial government in September by reversing her position on surpluses that had signed off on by her and her predecessors for years, was defiant.

“This isn’t about me,” she said.

“It is not my money. That money is for the benefit of employees and retirees … so it’s not my pension. It’s not my budget deficit.”

The dispute means the auditor general will likely issue a “qualified audit opinion” of the government’s books instead of a “clean audit opinion” later this year.

On Monday, O’Malley said the conflict was “a difference of a professional opinion between the professional accounting staff of government and the staff at the office of the auditor general on how the surpluses of these two plans ought to be dealt with in the public accounts.”

“We believe that an asset does exist — the net pension asset meets the definition of an economic resource, which is what an asset is,” she said.

“Many government assets are not accessible. A road is an asset to a government because it allows it to provide public services of transportation, but you can’t move a road or you can’t sell a road unless it’s a toll road, but it’s still an asset.”

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/02/16/auditor-refuses-to-back-down-in-107b-pension-feud.html
RCO





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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontario auditor calls for written agreement between pension sponsors


Ainslie Cruickshank

Thursday, February 16th, 2017



Ontario’s Auditor General says she needs proof the government can readily access $10.7 billion in pension surpluses before she’ll give her stamp of approval to the provincial accounts, despite a differing expert opinion offered earlier this week.

“The Ontario government and its partners in their joint pension plan have deals to deposit money but no negotiated agreements presently to use any surplus,” Bonnie Lysyk told reporters Thursday. “My message is clear: show me the letter. Show me the letter that says you can use that pension money with permission.”
The government doesn’t appear prepared to provide any such letter, however....

http://ipolitics.ca/2017/02/16.....-sponsors/
RCO





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PostPosted: Sun Feb 19, 2017 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ontario AG questions Liberals' accounting practice

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief
First posted: Saturday, February 18, 2017 07:20 PM EST | Updated: Saturday, February 18, 2017 07:29 PM EST




Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk says she won’t give her “seal of approval” to an Ontario government accounting practice that might generate about $3 billion to balance the budget right before a provincial election.

“I’ve heard the number over $3 billion would be used from this accounting calculation to contribute to balancing the budget,” Lysyk told the Toronto Sun. “I don’t have the specific number...but if they follow the methodology that they’ve used to date...it will be a substantial amount.”

Lysyk has been in a dispute with the government over how it books public pension plan assets — about $10.1 billion from the Ontario Teachers’ Federation (OTF) and more than $600 million from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

For her to sign off on the government’s financial statements, she’s demanding they “show me the letter,” a formal negotiated agreement with the OTF and OPSEU.

For instance, a letter that says the two sides have agreed to reduce contributions to the pension plan by a set amount would mean it’s actual revenue for the government, she said.

Otherwise, the government could turn around later and announce an increase in teacher pension benefits or another measure that uses up that “asset,” she said.

OPSEU President Warren “Smokey” Thomas said he wants a letter from Wynne confirming she won’t be raiding his members’ pension for funds to balance her books.

But OTF Secretary-Treasurer Rhonda Kimberley-Young said it’s an issue between the Auditor General and the Ontario government, when asked if the federation would provide the auditor with the requested letter.

“It really is a matter for the AG and the government to work out,” she said, adding the pension plan will later release a statement about its current financial position for funding. “At that point, we know whether we are dealing with a deficit or a surplus.”

Ontario Treasury Board President Liz Sandals, who established an expert panel that eventually agreed with her that the assets are being booked properly, has said she’ll accept the findings of that panel.

Sandals said in a statement that there is a history of the OTF agreeing to reduce contributions in the past.

“They also concluded that the government controls access to the pension surplus which has a future economic benefit to the province and recognizing the asset will provide an accurate representation of the province’s financial position,” she said.

Lysyk said her staff checked with the TTC and the provincial governments of two other provinces that have similar pension assets and they follow the practice she’s recommending and mark their value down to zero.

*************

The Toronto Sun asked Lysyk about the disagreement.

Why should this be important to the public?

“There is an increasing amount of revenue being booked in the government statements that is generated from a calculation that is representing it to be revenue from the teachers’ pension fund.”

“If I was a taxpayer, I’d want to make sure that what’s being booked on the statements that I read represents reality... And it isn’t reality, assuming that the taxpayers financial statements show revenue from a pension plan where typically that revenue resides in the pension plan.”

The Ontario government says this accounting practice has been going on since 2001 with no complaints, so why is it a problem now?

“This is actually the first time the asset has been growing, at the same time when you look at the budget document that came out last year you’ll see that the teachers expense line shows revenue. So that was a trigger.”

“We took more of a deep dive, we did cross-Canada comparisons on the discount rates in pensions plans and government statements across Canada. (My staff) were talking to people in finance...and said, ‘I think we have a problem here.’”

“As an auditor’s office, when new information comes to our attention, it would be inappropriate for us to say well just because something didn’t look like an error in previous years, it’s not an error today.”

How can your office and an expert panel disagree on this?

“At the end of the day, the province doesn’t need my permission to record the money on its books...But my job is to give that seal of approval in the form of an audit opinion on the issue...Even though people say we don’t need it, if you believe that you own this asset why can’t the government and the teachers provide us with a letter confirming that?”

What if you don’t get that letter?

“The only thing that would happen is if the government still chose to put it in their statement I would issue a qualified opinion on that issue...It would be the first time Ontario had a qualification on its statement of operations.”

Are you concerned about the level of conflict between the current Ontario government and your office?

“This is an independent office of the Legislature. We work for all members and we work for the citizens of Ontario...We’re just doing our job. And we’re putting out the facts.”

http://www.torontosun.com/2017.....g-practice
RCO





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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don’t let Kathleen Wynne replace our watchdogs with lapdogs


Warren “Smokey” Thomas, Special to the Sun

First posted: Monday, February 20, 2017 03:01 PM EST | Updated: Monday, February 20, 2017 03:02 PM EST


Ontario’s public service workers and retirees feel like we are about to get robbed. Premier Kathleen Wynne is greedily eyeing our hard-earned pension fund and she wants to use our money to balance the deficit.

Clearly, we need a watchdog to protect us.

Auditor general Bonnie Lysyk, our most important watchdog, was right to rule that the government cannot balance its books using pension fund surpluses.

But the Liberals don’t like watchdogs. They want lapdogs.

That is why Wynne bought the most expensive yes-people she could find to “advise” her on the pensions.

Reaching into your tax dollars and mine, she paid a group of so-called experts $2,000 a day — outrageous daily bills that could add up to $500,000 — to tell her what she wanted to hear.

At that price, Wynne knew she was not buying an honest answer, but instead a statement attacking the auditor general.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) backs Lysyk.

If Lysyk does not succeed, then Wynne will have again squashed a vital check on her authority. After all, the premier has already neutered the financial accountability officer who demanded that Hydro One executive salaries be disclosed.

Wynne is continuing to channel Donald Trump and swat down all dissent. She is simply not respecting any limits on her power.

Instead of listening to the people’s watchdogs, she only pays attention to her wealthy friends, bankers like Ed Clark and the investors who are getting rich off of privatization.

This is more Liberal elitism.

For years, the Liberals been trying to balance the books on the backs of our members with austerity plans and their zero-raise agenda.

It is not the worker’s fault when politicians blow through money, so the retirement fund for front-line workers must not be used to clean up the government’s financial mess.

It doesn’t matter that a Liberal lapdog at the Toronto Star wants us to believe this is just a technical argument over accounting practices. Make no mistake, it’s a real fight over who owns billions of dollars earned by workers and invested for their retirement.

If nobody stands up to Wynne, I’m afraid her next move could be to actually steal our pension money, giving her more cash for overpaid consultants and Sunshine List executives.

We have seen corporate bosses play these games in the private sector, and in the end, workers always lost.

That is why I am calling on the premier to come out now and say she will not touch the public pension plans.

This money belongs to the province’s workers — the people who earned it.

- Thomas is the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

http://www.torontosun.com/2017.....th-lapdogs
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Ontario's debt actually $10 billion higher

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