Commentary on the 2020–2021 Financial Audits—$300 billion spent or advanced under COVID-­19 measures

Commentary on the 2020–2021 Financial Audits$300 billion spent or advanced under COVID‑19 measures

Ottawa, 14 December 2021—Today, the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) released the Commentary on the 2020–2021 Financial Audits. This report highlights the results of the financial audits conducted in federal organizations for fiscal years ended between July 2020 and April 2021. The OAG provided the Government of Canada with an unmodified audit opinion on its 2020–21 consolidated financial statements. This opinion provides credibility to the government’s financial reporting.

New this year is a reporting on the financial effects of the COVID‑19 pandemic. Results clearly indicate that COVID‑19 measures will have lasting effects on the government’s financial statements in the years to come. The government has spent or advanced approximately $300 billion under these measures, amounting to a 69% expense increase in government programs over the prior fiscal year. The government so far indicated that $3.7 billion of benefits have been overpaid and that additional amounts could be identified in future years as further verification takes place.

Phoenix pay errors also continue to be a concern: 47% of government employees sampled by the OAG had an error in their pay. Pay action requests can still take a long time to resolve, with 18% of unresolved requests being more than 3 years old.

The OAG was satisfied with the timeliness and credibility of financial statements prepared by 68 of the 69 federal organizations audited. Because of National Defence’s earlier challenges in providing some of the documentation, the OAG could not issue timely audit opinions on the financial statements for the Reserve Force Pension Plan. With respect to inventory management, National Defence has made progress on its long‑term action plan to better record, value, and manage its inventory. However, the audit found errors in about one quarter of the items sampled.

The Commentary on the 2020–2021 Financial Audits is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

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