Question re:  Internal audits - April 18, 2013

Mr. Silver:    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. Over the last number of years, the Auditor General of Canada has produced regular reports detailing the financial handiwork of this government, from education to asset-backed commercial paper, to the most recent findings regarding the Yukon Hospital Corporation. These reports have documented the financial mismanagement of the Yukon Party government.

In his budget speech, the Premier was criticizing the findings of the Auditor General. The Yukon government has its own audit service located in the Premier’s department. Its last report to the public was December 2011, some 15 months ago. That report was actually a follow-up to a 2008 study. The last new report was August 2011, some 19 months ago.

In the past, this office produced regular reports. Why has it been 19 months since the public has seen anything from the internal auditor?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:    Some people may forgive the member opposite for being relatively new here in this House, as we all know that he hasn’t been here for long, but certainly the member opposite does have a responsibility to the public to do research before making statements in this Assembly.

There is an internal audit service that the government has that comes forward with a program on an annual basis. The two major projects in the 2012-13 plan were an audit of staffing — a report tabled and approved by the audit committee recently — and an audit of the efficiency and fairness of the government in meeting responsibilities under the Environment Act. This is a body that works collaboratively with the Auditor General to ensure that we’re not providing duplication, that we get the best impact. It’s a way for government to continue to review its processes to ensure we are delivering and performing functions as a department in the most efficient, most accurate and best way. We continue to move forward with programs highlighted in the 2013-14 plan — an audit of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre is an example. I’m not sure where the member opposite is getting his information, but perhaps he needs to do a little bit more homework.

Mr. Silver:    I appreciate the few months that the Premier has on me — his vast experience differential.

These have never been tabled in the House. We know what the government thinks of the Auditor General of Canada. The Premier has made it very clear in his budget speech what he thinks of this office. There are also auditors in the Premier’s own department. The auditor and the public haven’t heard from these people in over a year and a half. Under the previous Yukon government, the internal auditor produced regular reports that seem to have come to a halt under this government. We haven’t seen the reports he speaks of in this House at all. The audits provide recommendations on how to improve government spending and certainly are something that the government could use some help with. Previous audits include property management, extended health benefits, contracting regulations and many other topics. When will the next audit be released and what is the subject of that audit?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:    The audit committee is comprised of up to six deputy ministers. The Deputy Minister of Executive Council Office is the chair and the Deputy Minister of Finance is the vice-chair; they are permanent members of the committee. Then there is a rotation of four other deputy ministers. Currently, the at-large members represent the Public Service Commission, Education, Community Services and Energy, Mines and Resources. Audit reports are posted on the website 90 days after they are approved by the audit committee. The timing permits submission to review by Management Board before any public release and is required by the Yukon government’s audit policy.

Mr. Silver:    The bottom line is there hasn’t been a single new audit released since this government was elected in the fall of 2011. In the past, the work of the internal auditor has looked at tourism marketing funds, Emergency Medical Services, Yukon’s Lottery Commission and, more often than not, the audits uncover fiscal mismanagement, much like the report from the Auditor General of Canada. Perhaps this is why these reports have not been produced or documented or tabled here in the Legislative Assembly since this government came to office in 2011. In the past, the internal auditor has produced an audit plan that lays out the government’s programs and what is going to be looked at.

Will the Premier table the most recent audit plan so that Yukoners can see what the internal auditor is looking at?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski:    This government has had a record of not only delivering in terms of public accounts, but also enhancing. Under the previous governments of the Liberals and the NDP, the Public Accounts Committee was shut down. So when we talk about public accountability, openness and transparency, that is exactly what did not happen under the Liberals or under the NDP. They shut that committee down.