Jessica Bell MPP, University–Rosedale

Government of Ontario

Six things you need to know about the Auditor General’s annual report

Published on December 12, 2023

The Auditor General’s job is to audit government agencies, departments, and government-funded institutions and assess whether they are working as they should, from school boards to emergency rooms to condo regulatory authorities. I look forward to reading the Auditor General’s massive report every year.  

Once the report is written, and the media splash is made, the real work begins. The Auditor General and their team work with MPPs as well as the department or agency that has been assessed to monitor their progress in improving their work.

Here’s what I learned from the latest report. 

Hospitals struggle with doctor and nurse shortages, resulting in emergency room closures 

The Auditor General found there were over 200 unplanned emergency department closures involving 23 hospitals, mostly in rural or remote areas, between July 2022 and June 2023, largely due to nursing and doctor shortages. 

Emergency department wait times remain long, with patients waiting an average two hours to be assessed by a physician, up 30 minutes in the last 10 years. Patients who require an inpatient bed have to wait more than 24 hours, and many continue to be treated in emergency department hallways when space is not available.

The government needs to understand that our public hospitals need to be there for us when we need them. 

The government is not meaningfully consulting with the public on environmental decisions

The government made significant changes to energy, land-use planning, and housing policies without meaningful consultation, undermining Ontarians’ ability to participate in decisions that impact the environment.

The government is required to follow the Environmental Bill of Rights, which gives Ontarians the right to be informed and participate in government decisions that affect our land, water, air, and wildlife, but they frequently do not do that.  

The government did not provide sufficient time for Ontarians to participate in Bill 23, which upended planning rules and development charges, removing land from the Greenbelt, or its new clean energy plan. The government treats the public as an afterthought. 

The Conservative's plan to relocate the Ontario Science Centre was flawed

The decision to relocate the Ontario Science Centre was based on preliminary and incomplete costing information that excluded key costs and proceeded without full consultation from key stakeholders, or a clear plan for the existing site. It was rigged to reach a predetermined conclusion.

The Conservatives crowed that moving the Ontario Science Centre would save money, however, the Auditor General’s report suggests that 90% of the claimed savings come from the lower costs of operating a much smaller science center with less exhibition space. 

The Conservatives have implemented 37% of the AG’s recommendations to address homelessness

In 2021, the Auditor General released a damning report on the government’s approach to addressing homelessness, concluding the government has no plan to reduce or end homelessness.

The progress report shows the government has implemented less than half of the Auditor General’s modest recommendations, which primarily centered on having the government get a clear picture of the homelessness crisis, coordinate its work across ministries and municipalities, ensure municipalities have standards for shelters, and clear rules for who gets to be placed in a home based on need, and better assess whether its programs are working or not.

The report also found that the province’s lack of support for people transitioning out of jails, hospitals, and the child welfare system is a contributing factor to the number of people who are homeless, along with low social assistance rates and the high and escalating cost of rent. 

The Conservative's have ignored the AG’s recommendations on land use planning

Land-use planning is the process that guides decisions about where and what type of development can occur—for example, where to build homes, factories, hospitals, schools, roads, and other essential infrastructure—and where different types of development should not occur.

The Auditor General investigated how land use planning decisions were made in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area in 2021. The AG found that the region was building too much sprawl and not doing enough to increase density, improve transit, and protect our farmland and greenspaces. The AG also found that the government wasn’t tracking its progress to achieve sustainable and responsible growth. 

The AG’s follow-up report concluded the Ford government had neglected the vast majority of Ontario's Auditor General's recommendations on how it could track its progress on land-use planning, implementing just one of 12 recommendations. 

While regulatory agencies proceed with condo reform changes, the Ministry is dragging its heels

Many people in University-Rosedale live in condos. I have been involved in improving consumer protections for condo residents so you have somewhere to turn if you are facing an issue with your neighbours, your board, your property manager, or the developer of your building.

Myself and MPPs from all parties wrote a report detailing what should be done to strengthen consumer protections for condo residents, and the Auditor General just released a progress report assessing the government’s progress in implementing the consumer protections we called for.

Here’s what it said. The Condo Authority, which regulates condo boards, had implemented all the recommendations suggested to it. The Condo Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario, which regulates property managers, had implemented 85% of the recommendations. The Ministry responsible for the entire sector had implemented just 4% of its recommendations, and these are the ones that count. 

Condo residents, I encourage you to review the report and give me your feedback on whether you’ve seen changes with the performance of the Condo Authority and the Condo Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario.