QUEEN’S PARK – Ongoing disagreements between the Independent Electricity System Operator and the Auditor-General of Ontario, Bonnie Lysyk, came to a head during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee last week. The Auditor-General stated that IESO management switched accounting rules suddenly just before the launch of the government’s rate reduction plan, retained a consultancy firm to advise on the plan’s structure and then hired the same firm to audit the agency’s accounts.
“This is beyond the pale” MPP McDonell stated. “The government has dismissed and even outright belittled the Auditor-General on repeated occasions, which is unacceptable. The IESO hired as an auditor the same firm it paid half a million dollars to for advice on how to structure the Fair Hydro Plan. We know that structure to be a shell game, designed to keep the massive borrowing required under the plan away from the government’s books, giving the impression of a balanced budget. Not only is this inappropriate, as the Auditor-General rightly states; it is also expensive. The borrowing costs for the plan are $4 billion more expensive under this ownership structure than had the government simply accounted for this debt on its own books, and borrowed at the preferential government rate.”
“The Auditor-General may issue a negative opinion of the government’s public accounts if the situation is not addressed,” reported MPP McDonell. “This government will be the first in Canadian history to have their numbers rejected by an Auditor General. These are not the actions of an open and transparent government and definitely not what the people of Ontario expect. Creative accounting is as intolerable in the public sector as it is in the private one. The current government will go to any length and plunge any depth to cling to power. When is enough enough?”
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