October 27, 2010, Ottawa, Canada – Canada’s Auditor-General Sheila Fraser finally released her report on the Harper government’s stimulus program yesterday. A thorough audit of all eleven projects in the program was conducted. Although there was some important criticism, all in all, Fraser found the program was well managed.
The big $47 billion job creation scheme was carefully scrutinized and the grades were good. The Auditor-General concluded that the government handled the project risks very well considering it was designed rather quickly. The money went where it was meant to go: the applicants that met the eligibility criteria. Complaints include delays that might not meet the March 31, 2011 deadline. Also, actual jobs created are not based on firm research.
Imports are serious business. It seems the federal government could be owed $2 billion in unpaid taxes and duties each year. An assessment of just 3% of the value of imports last year by the Canada Border Services Agency found that importers on additional $59 million to the government. If the same discrepancy would be applied to the whole, that number would total $1.97 billion for last year alone.
The biggest criticism was with the Defense Department. The purchase of the Cyclones was over budget and approximately seven years behind schedule. The purchase was done by the Liberal government, however, amendments by the Harper government in 2008 steered the deal in the wrong direction. Then there were the medium-to-heavy lift helicopters Chinooks that also went way over budget and five years behind schedule. More importantly, they were uncertain of their needs for the helicopter and wound up with $4.9 billion in equipment that wasn’t right.
On a positive note, the Auditor-General found that the Canada Revenue Agency has been doing an excellent job with regards to Charitable Donation cheats. Approximately $2-billion in charitable donations have been denied since the regulations around “gifting arrangements” were tightened in 2003.