2021 Reports 12 to 15 of the Auditor General of Canada—Uneven access to last-resort assistance for Canadian small businesses affected by the pandemic
2021 Reports 12 to 15 of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of CanadaUneven access to last-resort assistance for Canadian small businesses affected by the pandemic
Ottawa, 9 December 2021—Today, a report from Auditor General Karen Hogan, tabled in the House of Commons, concludes that although the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund delivered last-resort assistance to thousands of businesses and organizations affected by the COVID‑19 pandemic, several weaknesses in program management lessened its efficiency, fairness, and transparency.
The audit found that regional development agencies worked with Science and Economic Development Canada to develop and launch the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund in less time than it typically takes to design and rollout a program. In order to process applications quickly, regional development agencies leveraged their experience, existing systems, and knowledge, and relied on information provided by applicants. However, efforts to administer the program quickly may have led to the weaknesses in program management that the audit report also raises.
“We found instances where funding was awarded to applicants who did not meet all of the eligibility criteria or where ineligible expenses were funded,” said Ms. Hogan. “We also found that applicants from different regions of the country faced different requirements to access funding because of regional development agencies’ different approaches and interpretations of the eligibility criteria.”
The audit also found that the full impact of the program will not be known for a few years. In particular, the impact on jobs maintained will be difficult to measure, notably because of the poor quality of data reported.
“Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada should work with regional development agencies to improve the measurement and reporting of results for future funding programs, so that progress against objectives can be tracked and shared,” said Ms. Hogan.
The 2021 Reports of the Auditor General of Canada, Report 14—Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.
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