TORONTO - Here are some of the highlights from the Ontario auditor general's 2019 report:
Environment — Ontario's climate change plan is not supported by sound evidence. Under the plan, greenhouse gas emissions will only be reduced by between 6.3 and 13 megatonnes by 2030 — the target is 17.7 megatonnes. The government should publicly report its progress as it develops and implements its environmental plan.
Hospitals — One million people are treated and discharged from hospitals each year, and 67,000 of those patients are injured during treatment. Since 2015, medical errors that could cause serious harm or death occurred a total of 214 times at six of the 13 hospitals reviewed by the auditor. More needs to be done to improve patient safety.
Long-term care homes — Food and nutrition does not always meet quality standards. Residents in three homes inspected by the auditor's team were served food that was past its best-before date. The government and long-term care homes must develop procedures to ensure residents receive adequate mealtime assistance and nutrition.
Addictions treatment — Wait times for treatment, opioid-related emergency department visits and death rates all continue to increase. Some of the funding for services is not allocated on a needs basis but evenly by region. Adequate policies and procedures are needed to deliver timely addictions services, monitor service providers and measure their effectiveness.
Commercial vehicle safety — Between 2008 and 2017, commercial vehicles were involved in over 182,000 collisions, resulting in 44,000 injuries and 1,180 deaths. More than half of the province's 60,000 commercial carriers have not been inspected in the last two years. The government needs to develop systems to carry out safety programs and enforce requirements for commercial vehicles.
Disability support — The cost of the Ontario Disability Support Program has jumped by 75 per cent over the past decade — from $3.1 billion to $5.4. billion a year — but the province has not looked into why that's happened. New systems are needed to ensure each recipient qualifies for the benefits and measure the program's overall effectiveness.
Court services — The backlog of criminal cases in the court system is growing, and courtrooms only operate for an average of 2.8 hours a day. Lack of co-operation from government staff and the chief justices of the Ontario and Superior courts prevented the auditor from fully exploring the reasons for the delays. The courts must review their scheduling system and share the results of the review with the government and the public.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2019.