Top News

EDITORIAL: Governments lax on lotto report

Atlantic Lottery
Atlantic Lottery

It’s an object lesson in the difference between governments and business.

In 2016, auditors general from all four Atlantic provinces issued a report on the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. They made a series of recommendations, both to the Atlantic Lottery itself, and to the four provincial governments that are shareholders in the company.

Now, the auditors general have issued a report on how their recommendations were dealt with in the two years following their report.

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation itself gets a gold star: the company addressed every single one of the 16 issues raised by the auditors, in the process recognizing the need to implement the best business practices it could.

The governments? Well, they didn’t fare anywhere near as well. They refused to follow some of the recommendations, and just haven’t gotten around to carrying out many of the others.

In all, only two of the audit’s nine recommendations to the governments were implemented.

The Atlantic Lottery Corporation itself gets a gold star: the company addressed every single one of the 16 issues raised by the auditors, in the process recognizing the need to implement the best business practices it could.

An example?

The corporation’s board. Each of the provincial governments get to appoint one board member, which they fill with a senior civil servant. The auditors suggested that all board members should be appointed based on competency, have terms greater than one year, and not be elected officials or public servants. The governments aren’t going to go along with that, even though there are good reasons for it.

The biggest reason?

Divided loyalty. Board members are supposed to put the corporation first, but with civil servants representing the governments, they can act to subvert board decisions in the interests of their employers. At one point, the board unanimously voted to bring in bylaw amendments that civil service board members later simply didn’t support in practice.

The auditors suggested keeping the civil servants on the board to represent the government shareholders, but as non-voting members. The governments weren’t up for that either.

Meanwhile, a host of other recommendations simply haven’t been addressed yet: things like undertaking a mandate review for the ALC, committing to give the lottery company clear and regular policy direction, and reviewing the ALC’s shareholder agreement.

It is clear that the governments involved feel no sense of urgency about dealing with the concerns raised by the auditors general.

In fact, the only two recommendations that the governments got around to delivering on were the simplest: what level of government official the ALC should report to in each government, and clarifying “the relationships between the board, the responsible minister, and other government representatives.”

Both of those could have been done by writing and delivering a single letter.

The clear message you can take from it all is that some people take oversight by provincial auditors general as a serious part of their corporate duty, while others see themselves as, shall we say, above all that.

Recent Stories