WATCH ABOVE: Metrolinx spending more than it needs to, says Ontario auditor general
Ontario’s auditor general has found that the provincial government hasn’t kept a close enough eye on contracts and contractor spending.
In her annual report, Bonnie Lysyk found that regional transit agency Metrolinx, responsible for billions in public cash, is awarding contracts to “poorly performing” contractors who submit the lowest bids.
“(Metrolinx) does not track contractors’ past performance and does not consider contractors’ ability to deliver completed projects on time, which has resulted in Metrolinx incurring additional costs,” the report stated.
The report also found the agency, which has spent about $4 billion to build nearly 520 projects in the last five years, has provided bonuses to contractors simply for completing projects on time. Metrolinx also rehired a company that installed part of a Pickering GO bridge upside down.
According to the report, road paving contractors are in some cases completing work that only lasts a fraction of how long it’s supposed to, significantly increasing costs for the upkeep of Ontario’s roads and highways. In a study of five highway contract jobs in particular, the Transportation ministry paid out an extra $23 million to fix prematurely cracked asphalt.
The report also blasted government advertising, the cost of which has ballooned to nearly $50 million from about $30 million last year. The report says new, weaker oversight rules introduced in 2015 have resulted in the public footing the bill for partisan-friendly ads.
“We believe that as a result of the amendments, Ontarians have in the last year paid millions of dollars for advertising designed primarily to present the government in a positive light rather than to inform,” the report stated.
The auditor also found that after 14 years and $8 billion in spending, progress has been made on Ontario’s electronic health records system, but it’s still not possible for all health care workers to easily access information such as lab results regardless of where testing was completed.
PC leader Patrick Brown said the AG’s report is rampant with “stunning examples of Wynne Liberal incompetence.” He attacked the government on Metrolinx oversight, eHealth spending and hospital wait times in particular.
“The report paints the picture of a tired and negligent government, incapable of successfully providing even the most basic services that the people of Ontario expect from their government,” he said in a statement.
– Ontario’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emissions scheme would cost Ontario businesses $466 million by 2020 and result a relatively small reduction in emissions.
– In a survey of three large hospitals, one in 10 patients with a condition serious enough to be admitted experienced a “longer than expected” emergency room wait. At the same, the audit determined that operating rooms are “underutilized” with most closing down during evenings and holidays.
– In the last five years, the number of people going to hospital emergency departments across the province for mental-health reasons increased 21 per cent.