Ontario's auditor general says pandemic response hampered by 'delays and confusion'

CKTB - NEWS - COVID-19 report money

Ontario's auditor general says the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was slower and more reactive than that of other provinces, hampered by ``delays and confusion in decision-making.''

Bonnie Lysyk says outdated provincial emergency plans played a role in slowing down the provincial response in the winter and spring, as did systemic issues such as a lack of laboratory surge capacity and old IT systems.

Lysyk also points to an increasingly cumbersome command structure, and one that was not led by public health expertise despite the creation and expansion of a provincial health command table that she says now involves more than 500 people.

As well, she found the province's chief medical officer of health did not fully exercise his powers in responding to the pandemic, or issue directives to local health officials to ensure a consistent approach across regions.

The auditor general also raised concerns that lab testing, case management and contact tracing were not being conducted in a timely enough manner to limit the spread of the virus, noting that between January and August, all but one public health unit failed to meet the target of reporting test results within a day 60 per cent of the time.

The findings are part of a special report released today that examines Ontario's emergency management in the context of the pandemic, and its outbreak planning and decision-making, among other things.