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Ontario's auditor general set to release annual report today

The Canadian Press
Ontario's auditor general set to release annual report today

TORONTO — Ontario’s auditor general is set to release her annual report today, shining a light on the previous Liberal government’s actions on issues such as health care, transit infrastructure and electricity.

Bonnie Lysyk’s report, which includes 15 value-for-money audits, is slated to be presented in the legislature around noon.

The report will examine whether the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is effectively administering out-of-province and out-of-country health insurance to Ontarians, and whether it is ensuring MRI and CT scans are provided in a timely, safe and fair way.

The report also dedicates two sections to the province’s transit agency, Metrolinx, which will examine the selection of two proposed GO Transit stations and whether it can deliver light-rail projects in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Another section of the report will look into the refurbishment of the Darlington nuclear plant.

Since the Progressive Conservatives formed government in June, the auditor’s report deals with the actions of the previous Liberal regime.

Interim Liberal leader John Fraser said he welcomes the report but suspects it will be used by the Tories to justify cuts.

“I imagine that we’ll get criticized but that’s all part of being in politics and being in government,” he said.

The Tory government has already called a commission of inquiry and a financial review to examine the Liberals’ spending, as well as a special committee to look into the party’s Fair Hydro Plan.

Those measures led Premier Doug Ford’s government to declare that the deficit is far greater than originally believed, and to call for provincewide belt-tightening.

Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University, said the report will give the governing Tories more ammunition to criticize their predecessors.

“Usually this is one of the worst days of the year for government,” he said. “But for a new government, particularly replacing one that’s been there for 15 years, it’s like candy, in the sense that it allows them to further browbeat a Liberal party that is in very weak shape provincially.”

It also gives them excuses to go and make changes in a variety of areas, Graefe said, because “they have this report where the auditor general says that there’s been something that hasn’t been done right in area X and so under the pretext of responding to that problem they presumably do a number of other changes.”

The auditor’s scrutiny of the Ontario Works program and how it ensures only those who are eligible receive support will likely be of interest to the government, for example, he said.

“That can be useful in terms of selling their social assistance package that they brought out the other week,” he said.

But Lysyks’ report could also cause complications for the Tories if she calls for transit to be better insulated from political influence, Graefe said.

Criticism of the Darlington project could also be a hurdle for the government, which got elected on a promise to refurbish the Pickering nuclear plant, he said.

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