'Efficiencies' involving OPP, Drive Clean explored in audit
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012 7:19AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 12, 2012 1:38PM EST
Ontario’s auditor general released the results of his 2012 “value for money” report Wednesday, taking aim at the effectiveness of the Drive Clean program and questioning provincial police spending.
Among other criticisms related to the public purse, Jim McCarter advised Ontario Provincial Police to better control its overtime costs and pay more attention to the assignments officers received.
McCarter said that OPP expenditures climbed 27 per cent over the last five years, despite the fact that Canadian crime rates continue to drop.
What’s more, the number of calls the OPP receives each year has remained steady since 2005, he added.
The missive is just one of the recommendations included in McCarter’s yearly report, intended to explore whether Ontario is properly handling taxpayer dollars.
This year’s report is McCarter’s last as auditor general. He said this time he’s paid particular attention areas that can become more efficient.
“This report comes at a time when the industrialized world is struggling with the twin challenges of slow economic growth and high debt, issues that also confront Ontario,” McCarter told reporters.
Shifting attention to Drive Clean, a mandatory vehicle-emissions testing program, McCarter said emissions have declined “considerably” since the program was first initiated in 1999. The development means that vehicle emissions are no longer considered a significant contributor to smog in Ontario.
Other areas examined by McCarter included:
Crown Attorneys:Number of Crown attorneys has doubled in the last two decades, but case load has “barely changed.” The argument is that the attorneys require more time, but the McCarter said there’s little available data that proves that.
Diabetes Management Strategy: It’s unclear how beneficial the $741-million program has been. McCarter said access to care has improved, but many services remain underused. As well, just three per cent of program funding has gone toward prevention.
Long-term care:Many patients are sitting in hospitals longer than they should be, McCarter concluded. It was discovered that one in five patients waiting for long-term care have applied to only one home, even though that home might have a sizeable waiting list.
- Metrolinx: The audit concluded that once Metrolinx’s PRESTO card is fully developed, it will be one of the most expensive fare-card systems in the world. Initial estimates suggest the card could cost a total of $700 million.
Traditionally, McCarter’s yearly report has unearthed stark financial realities, many of which are related to government agencies and social services, such as hospital care and access to doctors.
Even with the lingering possibility of reprimand, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty earlier on Wednesday that he was looking forward to the auditor general’s report.
“I think by any objective we keep making gains every single year,” he told The Canadian Press. “He’s always got some great advice and we always follow up on his recommendations.”
Casting an eye back at his previous reports, McCarter told reporters at Queen’s Park that he’s pleased to report that Ontario has heeded several of his past recommendations.
McCarter is rounding out his last term as auditor general. His resignation becomes effective on April 30, 2013.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Paul Bliss
Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter releases his 2012 annual report at Queen's Park in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec.12, 2012. (Nathan Denette / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter speaks at a news conference after tabling his annual report at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.