Millions of dollars wasted: AG

James McLeod
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Auditor general details problems in government spending

Auditor General John Noseworthy has found millions of dollars in government mismanagement and public safety concerns as a result of policies not being followed.

On Wednesday, Noseworthy released his annual report on government operations, which examines questionable practices and wasted funds within the provincial bureaucracy.

While the report details sketchy practices in everything from forestry management to real estate regulation Noseworthy was careful to say the issues he uncovered are to be expected in any organization as big as the Newfoundland government.

“Every year we have items that we present for government to consider — issues, deficiencies and non-compliance with established policies,” he said. “I think this is very similar to what we see each year.”

One of the biggest concerns is a systemic failure to follow policies in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, which leaves children more vulnerable to abuse.

Noseworthy also found government officials failing to follow proper policies when hiring hundreds of retired teachers, who draw a pension while they continue to get paid a salary.

Government failed to provide proper oversight in the fishery and forestry sectors, the report said.

Provincially owned vehicles still under warranty were being taken to local service stations for repairs, and the government has rented cars for so long that it would have been cheaper to buy a car instead.

Noseworthy also reported the province has made virtually no movement on its government broadband initiative, and not enough is being done to clean up contaminated waste sites.

When asked by The Telegram which topics were most concerning, he said that no single issue stands above the rest.

“We don’t usually try to categorize any ahead of others,” Noseworthy said. “They’re all important and they should all be considered by government.”

Finance Minister Tom Marshall said the auditor general’s reports are taken very seriously.

Marshall said the auditor general provides an important service to the government, and pointed out that the government has moved on nearly 90 per cent of past recommendations.

Noseworthy said he is quite pleased the government has been so responsive to his previous reports.

“That’s a really good percentage; we would be pleased with 80, and we’re up around 89 per cent,” he said. “I have to be pleased overall with that.”

Despite that, the government has failed to move on recommendations made on air quality in schools,  inspections in the aquaculture industry and a variety of other issues.

In total, 21 recommendations made between 2004 and 2008 have not been satisfactorily enacted, according to Noseworthy.

In total, 79 have been fully implemented, and another 82 have been partially implemented.

Organizations: Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • EmmaCay
    January 31, 2012 - 13:04

    I have been looking for a real estate company for a long while. I love my house, but I have to move. I'm looking to sell my current home and move back to the East coast.

  • Jinski
    January 27, 2011 - 10:52

    People should have the freedom to stop working when they want to and not be forced into it by some crazy rule. Workers of the world unite...whatever age! If people have the skills, energy, and desire there should be a job for them.

  • Frank Blackwood
    January 27, 2011 - 10:25

    I can see retired teachers going into Retail or Real Estate, but not back to their previous careers, unless it is to replace someone, who suddenly became ill. Even then, they should post the position. They are certainly doing more harm to our students who have a dream of becoming a teacher someday. One factor that Mrs. Fleet is really ignoring is the politics within the Avalon School Board framework itself, even with the teachers. So many good teachers left their own hometowns because of dirty politics. Those greedy pensioners should be weaned out to give others a livelihood too. There are times of desperation for seniors, but there are a lot of other little jobs to give you extra pennies to rattle.

  • smw
    January 27, 2011 - 09:39

    with regard to hiring teachers, they cant have their cake and eat it too. the pensions should cease . too many nfldrs are having to go abroad to seek employment when the jobs are available and given to those retired teachers. a lot of charities are looking for volunteers and isnt that what retirees who want to stay active do?

  • DorothyRyan
    January 27, 2011 - 08:30

    The practice of hiring retired teachers should be dealt with immediately. I have a son who had to go to Asia for a teaching position, like many other young people in our province are forced to do. It's no wonder that we are losing all of our young brilliant minds to other places! Let retirees do what they are supposed to do! Retire! and give our children a chance to stay at home and make a living.

    • KateH
      January 27, 2011 - 10:15

      (Thank you AG) furthermore...retired teachers receiving their pensions should not be hired when we have our young men and women with their costly Education degrees without teaching positions and having to leave this province and country to find positions. It is absolutely disgraceful that our government allows this. This issue has been in the media on open lines for some time and there does not seem to be any rush to change this. Shameful...

    • mary whelan
      January 27, 2011 - 10:50

      This has been going on for years, I agree with Dorothy, whose son had to leave the country to find work. My daughter graduated in 1993, and didn't have a chance of a snowball in hell of getting a job here, it's time for this to stop.

    • Rose Phillips
      January 27, 2011 - 10:56

      Shame on the government for hiring retired teachers when we have so many qualified teachers unable to obtain positions. The government is always talking about ways to keep young people in our Province, well wake up, and get rid of the retired teachers and give our youth a chance. As for retired teachers who go back teaching because they are bored, there are many organizations who need volunteers. So are they bored or just greedy!