On Wednesday, the Auditor General (AG) submitted his special report on consultant use in selected health organizations. We asked the Auditor General to report on this issue and we knew that, in doing so, we were asking for the AG to shine a light on and to root out unacceptable practices. This is not something previous governments have asked the AG to do.
That is exactly what he has done. He has reported that for the most part the Ministry was in compliance with government directives on consulting services and on procurement. That was not the case for the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) and the hospitals the AG reviewed. I have linked the report of the AG for your information: <http://www.auditor.on.ca/en/reports_en/consultantuse_en.pdf>The practice of public institutions using tax payer dollars to lobby government is unacceptable. These practices have been in place for many years before our government came into office but they need to stop. We do not defend these practices.
Also today, our Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Deb Matthews, introduced legislation <http://www.news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2010/10/raising-the-bar-for-accountability-and-transparency.html> that could ban these practices and would, if passed, implement all the AG’s recommendations. The legislation would go farther by:
* Placing a ban on the use of consultant lobbyist hired, using public funds
* Introducing new accountability measures for both hospitals and LHIN
* Making hospitals subject to the Freedom of Information and Privacy Protection Act
* Putting in place new procurements and expense claim rules
* Putting in place new compliance measures; and
* Empowering LHIN and hospital boards to reduce the compensation of a senior manager who fails to comply with the Act
We’ve made a number of changes since 2003 to improve transparency for Ontarians. In my own experience as Minister of Education, I instituted more stringent Trustee expense guidelines and brought in legislation to require more accountability for school boards. We also instituted a law that requires government to open its books to the public before a provincial election so that there can never again be a surprise financial situation after an election.
These actions on our part obviously do not excuse the findings of the AG, but we do have a record of looking for ways to clean up government processes.
As always, I would be happy to talk further with any of you about this or any other issue.
On a different and lighter note, I have joined the Twitter conversation – happy to have you follow me at: twitter.com/kwynnempp.
Regards to you all,
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