Auditor General slams Wynne government

Elias Hubbard
October 18, 2017

The Auditor-General says the provincial government chose to treat billions of dollars in new debt needed to finance the electricity rebates as an asset to be sold to investors rather than debt.

Lysyk says the government is "improperly" accounting for the debt that the province is taking on by cutting hydro bills now.

The Auditor General's report, tabled today in the Ontario legislature, paints a picture of a Liberal government that has consistently placed the needs and rights of Ontarians behind those of its corporate funders, says CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn.

"Internal records show that senior government officials were aware their approach to borrowing could result in Ontarians paying significantly more than necessary", Lysyk said.

"In other words, to obscure the financial impact of the rate cuts on both the province's budgets and financial statements, the government plans to pay more than it has to", Lysyk said.

Based on Lysyk's finding, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown called the Liberal government's scheme "cooking the books". The $26 billion is being borrowed through Ontario Power Generation, so will not appear on the province's books.

That will cost the public $39.4 billion in all, she said, including $4 billion in extra interest payments, throwing the credibility of the province's budgets and consolidated financial statements in doubt for years to come.

"The government does not agree with the assertions and the conclusions of this report", Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault said on Tuesday afternoon.

The government said the financing is indeed in compliance with accounting standards.

Hahn echoed the sentiment, but said that restoring Hydro One to full public control is the only long-term fix for the mess the Liberals have created in the province's electricity system.

"Perhaps the essential accounting dispute that we have with the auditor is a dispute over what happens when the Canadian Public Sector Accounting Standards are silent, when they don't give direction", Ms. Sandals said.

Ms. Lysyk rejected that argument.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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