Social assistance costs ballooned under Liberals, auditor says in report

By Paola Loriggio and Shawn Jeffords
THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO - Ontario's auditor general says social assistance costs ballooned under the previous Liberal government but the system failed to help recipients become self-reliant.

In her annual report released today, Bonnie Lysyk says the number of Ontario Works cases has increased by almost 25 per cent since 2009, hiking costs up more than 55 per cent to nearly $3 billion.

At the same time, Lysyk says the program only helped 10 to 13 per cent of recipients find work in the last five years.

The report also found the previous minister of transportation improperly interfered with the selection of two GO Transit train stations and that the Liberals spent $62.5 million on advertising last year -- 30 per cent of which would not have been approved under more stringent rules that previously existed.

Lysyk further says the government could save money by hiring full-time IT staff instead of relying on consultants for long-term contracts.

Since the Progressive Conservatives formed government in June, the auditor's report deals with the actions of the previous Liberal regime in 15 value-for-money audits.