Audit finds Ontario failed to track $4.4B in COVID-19 pandemic relief spending

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TORONTO —
An audit out today has found the Ontario government failed to track properly $4.4 billion in COVID-19 relief spending.

Among other things, the audit found no tracking of when front-line workers received pandemic pay.

The audit also found the program had weak processes to verify funds went to eligible people.

In all, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk looked at 26 health-related COVID-19 spending programs authorized between March and June 2020.

Overall, she says 17 lacked processes related to verifying proper use or timely distribution of funds.

Her report notes the Health Ministry took months to define criteria for reimbursable spending by public health units, hospitals and Public Health Ontario.

The report highlights that the ministries of health and long-term care have not tracked COVID-19 spending by initiative, but instead reported spending and committed funds in one total.

Those ministries also did not consistently meet deadlines for reporting actual spending, the report found.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.

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