Legislative Report (14 December 2006)
14 December 2006
Provincial Auditor Also Has Serious Concerns With the NDP
It appears the Provincial Auditor has some well-founded concerns that the NDP government is not able to ensure that millions of dollars handed out to community based organizations are indeed being spent on the programs they should be. We have all seen what can go wrong when the NDP government does not have proper checks and balances in place when it gives money to a third-party organization. Witness the mess that happened with the Department of Community Resources (DCR) and the troubled Oyate Safe House.
Following a media report that featured allegations of children being put at further risk in a safe house that was supposed to help them escape the sex trade, and allegations of inappropriate use of public funds by the board of directors, the Saskatchewan Party asked both the Provincial Auditor and the Children’s Advocate to conduct investigations into the safe house. The auditor released a damning report into the safe house this June. Here is some of what the auditor had to say about what went on at the safe house:
“DCR did not regularly inspect or evaluate Oyate’s programs ... Without adequate processes to keep informed of all significant problems at Oyate, DCR did not know if Oyate was meeting DCR’s objectives. In addition, DCR did not know if Oyate safeguarded the money it received from DCR and used it only for the purposes DCR intended.” (page 22) “Oyate has not given any annual audited financial statements ... without information on the financial position of Oyate ...or information on its cash flows ... DCR is not able to tell if Oyate is in a sustainable position to continue to deliver services.” (Page 23)
Following this report, the Saskatchewan Party asked the provincial auditor to conduct an investigation into all existing service agreements between child and family service organizations that provide services to children at risk to ensure that taxpayers’ dollars were being spent appropriately. NDP government members on the Public Accounts Committee expressed reservation about such an investigation and DCR Minister Buckley Belanger called it a “witch-hunt.”
Well, now the provincial auditor is expressing these concerns again, but on a broader basis. Last year alone, the NDP government gave $86 million to community based organizations for service delivery. In a news release about his report from last week, Wendel said, “The Department does not require these organizations to set performance measures or targets, so the Department cannot know if the organizations are achieving what the Department Intends. Nor do all the organizations provide the Department with required financial reports. The Department needs to receive financial and operational reports … to know that the money it provides them is used for intended purposes…”
It is disturbing that the NDP government has no means of knowing if taxpayers’ money is going to the children and families who need it. The government must learn from the mistakes it made with the Oyate Safe House – young girls trying to escape the sex trade were put at further risk because the NDP government failed to ensure money was being spent for the purposes it was intended.
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