Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Auditor notes 180 Ontario bridges in poor condition; yet local press has no interviews with Transportation boss Bradley

Jonathan Jenkins and Antonella Artuso reported in "Ontario overpaying on welfare benefits, auditor says", (St.Catharines Standard, Dec.8, 2009):

"Auditor General Jim McCarter's annual report has exposed a litany of waste, want and worry in the way Ontario spends money.

Among his findings: massive welfare benefit overpayments totalling $1.2 billion; huge overpayments for wheelchairs and other devices for the disabled and chronic and costly neglect on upkeep for the province's $40-billion housing stock.

The auditor also found waste in research funding, a half-billion dollars in potentially illegal user fee revenue, neglect in bridge maintenance and a crippling, $11.5 billion unfunded liability within Ontario's workplace insurance program.

"We did a number of audits and it was basically give your head a shake -- how can you not be following up on this stuff?" McCarter said.

"How can you not be checking out (welfare) eligibility? How can you give someone a 400% markup on a computer?"

McCarter's 488-page report covered 28 different audit and follow-up audit topics, some of which found solid performance or progress from pervious reports.

But several areas showed serious problems. The Ministry of Health program that helps chronically ill and disabled people buy medical equipment "significantly overpaid" for many of the devices, McCarter found.

"We can't really quantify but it would certainly be in the millions of dollars," he said. "They could be acquiring these devices for a lot less money than they're paying."

The program cost $347 million last year to help people get wheelchairs, scooters, hearing aids and a host of other medical aids but the help came too late for some -- since 2003-04, some $1.2 million has been recovered from home oxygen vendors after they were paid long after their client was deceased. The ministry is still working to identify such files back to 2001 and similar problems have been found in the ostomy program.

The auditor general also took the Finance Ministry to task for a whopper that found its way into last spring's budget.

OntarioBuys, the centralized procurement agency the government established in 2004, claimed it generated $45 million worth of savings that were then ploughed back into front-line services.

"We found that just wasn't true. When we went back to OntarioBuys and said prove it, they basically couldn't," McCarter said.

"Of the $20 million that we had pretty good evidence was saved, only $300 went into frontline savings. The other $20 million went into a back office computer system.

"Our concern was especially in a document like a budget, don't be telling people you put $45 million into front-line services when you didn't . In essence, check your facts."

An official with the Finance Ministry said it regretted the overstatement in the budget, although the claim was still being made Monday on the OntarioBuys website.

One of the auditor's most disturbing findings is that 180, or 7%, of the province's bridges are in poor condition, yet the government has no plans to repair them within a year.

The quality of bridge inspections was also questioned after auditors noted that single inspectors looked at up to 10 bridges a day, despite a requirement that they spend two to three hours at a typical bridge.

The Ministry of Transportation, in a reply to the auditor's report, said that bridge repairs required for the safety of the travelling public are performed immediately."

Note the last several (highlighted) paragraphs: Good Ole St.Catharines Liberal MPP Jimmy Bradley is McGuinty's Transportation Minister: does anyone believe that the local Liberal-friendly press will ever follow up with their local Liberal deity regarding the Auditor's findings?!!

Bradley, this flicking Liberal climate-fear-mongering turd, several years ago blamed global warming for causing rust (see here) - and NOBODY questioned this politician's moronic assertions!

Nobody from the St.Catharines Standard's vaunted green team bothered to follow up and examine Bradley's bullshit - they're too busy propagating as much climate fear as possible.

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