POLITICS

Ten highlights from Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk's annual report

12/09/2014 03:23 EST | Updated 02/08/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Ontario's auditor general Bonnie Lysyk released her annual report Tuesday saying a number of government programs "didn't always provide value for money or deliver services as effectively as the public has the right to expect." Here are some highlights from the 600-page document:

— The smart meter program — which has cost about $2 billion so far — was rolled out without sufficient planning or monitoring by the government, and the province's objectives of reducing power demand at peak times and eliminating the need for new sources of power are not being met.

— The debt is growing faster than the provincial economy. By the time the annual deficit is eliminated by the government's target of 2017-18, the net debt will stand at about $325 billion — up from $267 billion at the end of March.

— Infrastructure projects delivered under public-private partnerships are costing much more than if they were contracted out and successfully managed by the public sector. Using the example of 74 projects under Infrastructure Ontario, Lysyk found costs were estimated to be nearly $8 billion higher.

— The ultimate costs and benefits of a high-risk, $224-million loan from Infrastructure Ontario to a subsidiary of the non-profit MaRS discovery District are "unclear."

— The Ministry of Health and Long-Term care has no way of tracking the percentage of Ontarians immunized for certain diseases, or whether its immunization program is cost-effective. A new management system — which is $85 million over budget — will also not be able to provide important coverage data if all vaccinations administered are not recorded.

— The provincial nominee program has "serious deficiencies" that increase the risk of unqualified people immigrating to Ontario who may not be of economic benefit to the province. The deficiencies include a low follow-up rate on questionable files, a delay in formally reporting potential abuse of the program to the federal government and giving certain applications priority.

— The Ministry of Education needs to strengthen inspection processes and enforcement actions to reduce serious occurrences at licensed daycares.

— The government has yet to fully implement source-water protection plans — a key recommendation from the commission that investigated the Walkerton tainted-water tragedy which killed seven and sickened more than 2,300.

— The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services needs to improve rehabilitation programs and its supervision of adult offenders serving their sentences in the community to lower the rate of reoffending and reduce the risk to the public.

— Ontario has no co-ordinated system to deliver palliative care services in the province and does not track costs specifically enough to determine the amount spent in this area.