News

Smart meters, MaRS on coming auditor general report

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun)

Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk (Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

Hydro smart meters and the MaRS loan are expected to be hot topics when Ontario auditor general Bonnie Lysyk releases her annual report Tuesday.

The value-for-taxpayer money audits provide a look at how the Ontario government and its agencies conduct business.

In addition to smart meters and MaRS financing, auditors have sharpened their pencils and examined the Ontario Parole Board, licensed daycare, immunization, palliative care, and residential services for people with developmental disabilities.

Smart meters, brought in under the Ontario Liberal government to allow time-of-use electricity pricing, cost more than $1 billion to install on properties across the province.

“The audit assessed whether effective systems were in place to ensure that the initiative was planned, implemented and managed cost effectively,” an auditor general news release said.

The provincial government has recently allowed Infrastructure Ontario to expand its money-lending services beyond municipalities.

One of those new taxpayer-backed loans went to the troubled MaRS Phase 2 project, a downtown Toronto office tower that was bailed out by the Ontario government at more than $300 million.

“The audit assessed whether Infrastructure Ontario issued loans to eligible borrowers at terms that reflect the associated risks, and whether it effectively monitors the outstanding loans and takes appropriate actions when risks warrant,” the news release said.

The auditor general is one of several legislative watchdogs assigned the job of holding the government to account for the money it spends.

Past audits have shed light on the true cost of the cancelled gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville, the Ornge air ambulance debacle and the eHealth Ontario expense bonanza.

The auditor’s annual report also comes at a time of unprecedented squabbling between the watchdogs, with Ontario ombudsman Andre Marin accusing Lysyk of trying to limit his investigative powers.

Meanwhile, provincial children and youth advocate Irwin Elman is seeking some of the powers that the auditor and ombudsman already enjoy to more fully investigate complaints at youth jails, group homes and mental health facilities.

antonella.artuso@sunmedia.ca


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