Auditor General Report should be outline for government action

Michael Ferguson, Canada’s Auditor General (AG), reported to parliament this week and his findings are enough to keep the place busy for a long time.  Among them is a worrisome claim that the government’s budgets are not even analyzed by Finance Canada until months after they have been passed.  Given the ever-growing size and scope of the Conservative budgets, this is not shocking.  It shows how they are more of a shot in the dark than the government would have us believe.

Mismanagement at 21 military bases across the country was also reported.  Mr. Ferguson tells us this has a critical impact on the operational capabilities of the Canadian Forces.  Ultimately, the government is not providing the money needed to complete repairs in a reasonable amount of time.  Anyone who takes care of a house knows that the longer a problem persists, the greater the chance it will contribute to additional problems.   Having no contingency for property management on bases is just bad planning.  It increases the risk of operational failure, puts the health and safety of personnel at risk, and reeks of short term gain for long term pain. 

While the to-do list was growing for the government, they were busy releasing their own report to challenge the Auditor General and the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) on changes to age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS). Instead of accepting the findings of these independent, arm’s length investigators, the Conservatives are fighting them and providing reports that rely on fictional, worst-case scenarios.

At issue are reports from the AG and PBO that show how raising the age of eligibility for OAS and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will not save a significant amount of money. The Conservatives are claiming the reports do not take into account future recessions.  This is not the kind of economic forecasting we hear when they brag about the great job they’re doing.  Ultimately, the best, independent evidence supports New Democrat claims that the programs were sustainable and should not have been changed.

The Auditor General’s report also showed that Canada’s recently injured veterans are not always getting benefits and services they are entitled to.  He tells us the transition to civilian life is inconsistent and raised issues that the Veterans’ Ombudsman made public five years ago like bad record keeping and incomplete files. 

If the government chose to, there is an appetite in parliament to address Mr. Ferguson’s findings.  But the government doesn’t seem to want to hear or believe anything that doesn’t support their own opinion.  When it comes to the treatment of seniors, our veterans and the bases that support our armed forces, this is unacceptable.