In this edition:
- Auditor General of Ontario releases annual report
- Canada leads G7 for most educated workforce, but is experiencing losses in key trades
- COVID-19 pandemic caused number of commuters to fall by 2.8 million
- Schreiner asks integrity commissioner to investigate government greenbelt plans
Auditor General of Ontario releases annual report
Value-for-money audits in the Auditor General’s 2022 Annual Report show that public organizations need to improve planning and coordination to improve service delivery, and provide more accessible information to help Ontarians make more informed decisions, Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk said today after the Report was tabled in the Legislative Assembly. Financial accountability and governance were other recurring themes in her Report.
Prominent findings include:
- Climate change increases the likelihood of more frequent and severe rainfall events, which can overwhelm storm sewers and other stormwater infrastructure, and increase the risk of urban flooding. However, the Province isn’t making changes to reduce these flood risks.
- Even though the purpose of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act is to conserve the natural environment, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry doesn’t provide sufficient financial and staffing resources to ensure the Niagara Escarpment Plan and Act are effectively and efficiently implemented.
- COVID-19 contracts reviewed were mostly procured in a timely and cost-effective manner, given the urgent circumstances of the pandemic, and were conducted using fair, open and transparent processes.
- There was no registry that contained vaccination records for all Ontarians when the pandemic began. This limited Ontario’s ability to rapidly adapt to new or existing disease outbreaks and required the Ministry of Health to create a new database for COVID-19.
- Even though Ontario has one of the lowest rates of automobile injuries among provinces, the average private passenger automobile insurance premium is the highest in Canada, and has increased by almost 14% to $1,642 between 2017 and 2021.
- The Ministry of Transportation prioritized the construction of four lower-ranked highway projects, resulting in the deferral of higher-ranked projects inconsistent with the recommendations of its own subject matter experts.
- The OEB regulates Ontario’s energy sector, yet it has no authority to regulate almost 34% of charges on an average residential bill, and it doesn’t have sufficient oversight of fees charged by the companies that provide metering and billing services to occupants of multi-unit buildings such as condominiums.
- The OLG is responsible for managing casinos in Ontario. However, the audit found that neither OLG nor the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is monitoring to ensure slot machines are connected to OLG’s central monitoring system, and that slot machines actually pay out 85% in winnings over the life of each machine, as per AGCO standards. The audit also noted that following the privatization of casinos, in 2019/20 the net profit to the Province from casino gaming revenue decreased by $54 million from what it received before privatization.
- OPG has been a reliable provider of hydroelectric power to the province. However, the audit found the OPG has not
been able to fully utilize its hydroelectric generating capacity over at least the last seven years. In 2021 alone, it could have generated an additional 4.6 million MWh of electricity, or enough to power over 540,000 Ontario households for a year.
Canada leads G7 for most educated workforce, but is experiencing losses in key trades
Canada has a larger share of the population with a college or university credential than any other country in the G7, a report by Statistics Canada revealed today. The share with a bachelor’s degree or higher continues to rise with an influx of highly educated immigrants and a growing number of young adults completing degrees. However, we may be leaving talent on the table with the educational qualifications of some foreign-educated workers being underused.
From 2016 to 2021, the working-age population saw an increase of nearly one-fifth (+19.1%) in the number of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher, including even larger rises in degree holders in the fields of health care (+24.1%) and computer and information science (+46.3%).
In contrast, the number of working-age apprenticeship certificate holders has stagnated or fallen in three major trades fields—construction trades (+0.6%), mechanic and repair technologies (-7.8%) and precision production (-10.0%)—as fewer young workers replace the baby boomers who are retiring.
Statistics Canada: COVID-19 pandemic caused number of commuters to fall by 2.8 million
The way Canadians commute was altered in 2021 by the pandemic, with lockdowns to slow the spread of COVID-19 and changes in how and where Canadians worked leading to 2.8 million fewer commuters, compared with five years earlier.
The number of Canadians “car commuting”—that is, travelling to work by car, truck or van as a driver or as a passenger—declined by 1.7 million from five years earlier to reach 11 million in May 2021. The drop in car commuting mainly occurred among those working in professional service industries, while the number of front-line workers commuting by car increased.
There were 245,000 fewer Canadians making car commutes of at least 60 minutes, compared with May 2016.
The number of people usually taking public transit to work fell from 2 million in 2016 to 1 million in May 2021, declining for the first time since the census began collecting commuting data in 1996.
With the economy more open and most public health measures related to the pandemic removed, the number of car commuters, at 12.8 million, had exceeded 2016 levels by May 2022. However, the number of public transit commuters, at 1.2 million, remained well below pre-COVID-19 levels.
Mike Schreiner asks integrity commissioner to investigate government’s plans to develop greenbelt
The Ontario Green Party has asked the integrity commissioner to investigate whether the premier or housing minister tipped off developers about their plans to open up the Greenbelt.
Leader Mike Schreiner told reporters he filed an affidavit on Monday asking for an opinion on whether Premier Doug Ford and MPP Steve Clark breached Section 2 or Section 3 of the Members Integrity Act.
Section 2 covers conflict of interest and ensures that a member of the Legislature does not knowingly make a decision that could further their own private interests or those of another individual. Section 3 prohibits a member from providing insider information that is not publicly available for private gain.
Focus on Climate
Why does Canada keep missing its climate targets?
At this year’s UN climate conference in Cairo, Canada avoided mentioning one inconvenient truth: We keep making climate promises we can’t keep.
From 2005 to 2019, our last normal economic year, we reduced our national emissions by less than 1 per cent – around two million tonnes – toward our goal of cutting emissions by 40 per cent to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. By contrast, the United States reduced their emissions by more than 800 million tonnes in the same time period.
Why is Canada such an emissions failure? It is not for lack of political ambition. There is unlikely to be a federal government more committed to climate action than this one. The failure is with our strategy: using domestic political emissions targets to try to address global emissions.
Small Canadian cities rank high on environmental scorecard that has a few surprises
A new environmental scorecard says Canada’s biggest cities have lower scores than most small and medium-sized municipalities, but a closer look at the data reveals some surprises.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal Environment International, rates 30 cities and towns on nine indicators related to health, including air quality, heat and cold waves, ultraviolet radiation, access to green spaces and other factors.
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