2017 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada—Auditor General releases 2017 Fall Reports

2017 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of CanadaAuditor General releases 2017 Fall Reports

Ottawa, 21 November 2017—In his 2017 Fall Reports tabled today in Parliament, the Auditor General of Canada, Michael Ferguson, presents the results of 6 audits completed by his Office since last summer. Copies of the previously released reports of the special examinations of the National Capital Commission and the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited are provided with the 2017 Fall Reports.

This latest round of audits focuses on the Phoenix pay system; the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) call centres; how Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) administered selected settlement services for Syrian refugees; the impact of Health Canada’s oral health programs for Inuit and First Nations; how Correctional Service Canada prepared women offenders for release; and whether the Royal Military College of Canada is producing the quality of officers that the Canadian Armed Forces need.

These latest audits again show that many government departments appear to be focused more on their own activities than on fully understanding what Canadians are getting from government programs, whether it’s answers to their tax questions, mental health support for women offenders, improved oral health for Inuit and First Nations, or the extent of the problems the government has to pay its employees.

“When I look at these audits together, I find that once again, I’m struck by the fact that departments don’t consider the results of their programs and services from the point of view of the citizens they serve”, stated Mr. Ferguson.

The audit of the Canada Revenue Agency’s call centres found that the customer service results that the Agency reports make its call centre service look better than it really is. For example, the Agency says that 90% of callers are able to connect with either its self-service system or a call centre agent. While this is technically true, this rate does not reflect that on average, a taxpayer has to call about 4 times in a week to get through to the Agency. The Auditor General found that only 36% of calls were able to connect.

A year and a half after the launch of the Phoenix pay system, the audit found that over 150,000 public servants were still waiting for a pay request to be processed. The value of outstanding pay errors, including employees who were paid too little and those who were paid too much, was about half a billion dollars at the end of June 2017. “In our view, it will take years to fix the pay system, and it will cost much more than the $540 million the government has so far identified that it will spend”, stated Mr. Ferguson.

In other areas, the audits found that IRCC assessed the settlement needs of most Syrian refugees under its $257 million initiative to help them settle in Canada, but delayed the transfer of $51 million to its service providers by at least 3 months and was not gathering all the information it needed to monitor whether Syrian refugees were integrating into Canada; Health Canada spends more than $200 million a year on medically necessary dental services for Inuit and First Nations people, but it doesn’t know how much a difference its dental benefit program makes; Correctional Service Canada is not meeting the rehabilitation needs of women offenders, especially those with mental illness; and the Royal Military College of Canada, a federally funded institution, offers good quality academic programs but spends about twice as much per student as other universities.

The Auditor General of Canada will be holding a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa at 11 am and will be available for interviews after 1 pm.

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The 2017 Fall Reports of the Auditor General of Canada are available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada Web site.

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