Ontario auditor general to assess Tory government's climate change plan

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk is seen in this photo. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ontario's auditor general will assess the government's plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in her annual report, to be released Wednesday.

It is one of 19 areas in which Bonnie Lysyk's office has conducted value-for-money audits this year.

The Progressive Conservative government cancelled Ontario's cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions after last year's election, and has introduced its own environment plan. Lysyk has looked at that plan to assess its effectiveness and whether the government is drawing on credible information.

"This audit assessed whether...initiatives are comprehensive, cost-effective, co-ordinated and likely to achieve emission-reduction targets; and that the effectiveness of these initiatives is monitored, evaluated and reported publicly," the office said Monday in a news release.

Environment Minister Jeff Yurek said he looks forward to the release of the report.

"The one thing we've come to see over the last year is that not one single plan or idea is a one-size-fits-all for any province, region or community, and our living document -- the environment plan -- will continue to evolve over the years and change over time as new technology comes on board," he said Monday in question period.

"We're going to maintain our work towards reducing our emissions to our 30 per cent (below 2005 levels) target and hopefully we're going to go beyond that target by 2030."

The report will also assess various areas of the justice system. It will look at whether the province has cost-effective systems for managing court operations and if they support timely resolution of court cases. There will also be separate sections dedicated to the criminal court system and family court services.

As well, the auditor has looked at whether working conditions in jails and detention centres allow correctional staff to safely supervise inmates, and if the programs and services in those facilities are delivered efficiently.

The office of the chief coroner and the forensic pathology service will also be under the microscope, with that audit assessing if the systems and procedures in place ensure effective and high-quality death investigations.

Several sections will deal with health care, including audits on patient safety and the administration of drugs at acute-care hospitals, as well as addictions treatment programs, chronic kidney disease management, and food and nutrition in long-term care homes.

"The Ministry of Long-Term Care funds 626 long-term-care homes that provide residents with 24-hour nursing care and help with daily living in a protective and supportive environment," the auditor's office said.

"This audit assessed whether the ministry, with homes and public health units, has cost-effective systems and procedures in place to ensure that food and nutrition services are delivered to residents in long-term-care homes according to relevant legislation, regulations and policies; that residents are provided with safe and nutritious meals; and that the efficiency and effectiveness of these activities are measured and reported publicly."

The auditor has also looked at food safety inspection programs -- such as meat, produce and dairy -- and public health units' food premises inspections and how they monitor and manage outbreaks of food-borne illness.

Other topics include cybersecurity at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., provincial support to the horse racing industry, workplace health and safety, commercial vehicle safety and enforcement, and the Ontario Disability Support Program.

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published on Dec. 2, 2019.