Auditor General’s report points to broad-based Conservative mismanagement

The Auditor General‘s spring report is telling the story of Conservative mismanagement across the federal government and doesn’t paint a pretty picture in the process.  Among the findings are wide-spread failings in the delivery of health care for remote First Nation communities;  financial mismanagement due to a lack of information on the growing number of boutique tax credits the Conservatives prefer; and problems related to low-risk offenders that have been kept  in jail longer.

The problems with health delivery on remote First Nations can be added to the many challenges these communities face.  While visiting communities in north-western Ontario this spring, I was shocked to see the effects that isolation had on basics such as food.  With that in mind, it was not too surprising to hear that Health Canada cannot confirm whether people in the remote communities of Manitoba and Ontario are able to access sufficient clinical and client care services along with medical transportation.

In addition to that, the health care being provided in some of these communities  is unacceptable.  In fact, only 1 of 45 randomly chosen nurses in First Nation communities had completed all five of Health Canada's mandatory training courses.  Most remote communities will have a nursing station, but the AG report states that some of these buildings don’t meet health and safety requirements or building codes.  Please keep these deficiencies in mind as you are reminded by Conservatives that they have balanced the budget, because inaction on issues like these is one of the ways that was done.

The report concludes that Conservatives have not been upfront about how their tax changes, specifically boutique tax credits, are performing.  The AG says that these tax credits, like the one for children's fitness, are not being evaluated properly which in turn makes it difficult for parliament to study their effects.  In the case of the fitness credit, it was reviewed, but the findings were not made public, which points to something that is being withheld intentionally.  At the end of the day, we are being asked to take the Conservative’s word that these measures are performing which is not how government accountability is supposed to work.

There were many more items covered by the Auditor General, but none may have been more embarrassing for the Conservatives - who like to consider themselves tough on crime - than the revelation that it has become more difficult to supervise the release of lower-risk offenders who are being held in jail longer.  In fact, more offenders are being released directly from high and medium security prisons, while lower risk offenders are routinely staying incarcerated past their first parole eligibility date.  This has been a consistent criticism of forcing criminals to do every minute of their time.  That sounds good in principle, but it is a policy that makes politicians sound tough while limiting the use of parole to monitor re-entry into society.  While that might sound tough on crime, it is anything but smart.