‘Albertans need to know’: UCP ripped for lack of accounting on $4B in COVID-19 spending

A damning new report from Alberta’s auditor general finds government ministries failed to include understandable, relevant and comparable data on COVID-19 in year-end reporting.

“Those are key accountability documents, those ministry annual reports,” Doug Wylie said Thursday. “Albertans need to know what was achieved with that money.”

Wylie wants to make it clear that no money is missing.

At the same time, he’s determined there is insufficient information on what pandemic programs like commercial rent relief, help for cities and towns, and improvements for schools actually accomplished.

“Such things as the number of jobs created. So this was an opportunity where we had to keep the economy going, so how many jobs were created? What was the cost of PPE?” he wondered.

Alberta’s former finance minister declined an interview request. In a statement, Travis Toews, who resigned to run for UCP leader, says he tried to improve reporting practices.

“When we were presented with an unprecedented pandemic, we delivered unprecedented levels of support nobody had planned for,” a statement from Toews said.

The NDP believes the government has failed Albertans.

“This is explosive language for a group of accountants,” NDP Finance Critic Shannon Phillips said of the findings. “The ultimate check here is not a rule or a law, the ultimate check here is common decency, and respect for democratic institutions.”

“Millions in transportation, child care costs, rental assistance, and no reporting on what was actually achieved,” added NDP Health Critic David Shepherd.

Wylie’s office found some examples of good financial reporting, but it was determined that the ministries of finance, health, education, municipal affairs, seniors and housing, and jobs and the economy all lacked important information in their reports.

The report doesn’t make any recommendations for improvement. Instead, it reemphasizes advice given to the government in 2019.

A treasury board spokesperson told CTV News Edmonton that each ministry is now required to include a dedicated COVID-19 recovery plan section in their annual report.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson

 

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