TORONTO — Ontario’s social assistance costs ballooned under the previous Liberal government but the system failed to help recipients become self-reliant, the province’s auditor general said Wednesday.
In her annual report, Bonnie Lysyk said the number of Ontario Works cases has increased by almost 25 per cent since 2009, hiking costs up more than 55 per cent to nearly $3 billion.
At the same time, the program only helped 10 to 13 per cent of recipients find work in the last five years, Lysyk said.
“A central finding in almost all of the audits this year was that spending of public monies did not consistently result in the cost-effective achievement of anticipated program benefits, or the proactive addressing of program risks,” she said.
“We also found that, contrary to what people would expect, the government did not always take all steps necessary to ensure that programs are providing financial assistance only to eligible people.”
Since the Progressive Conservatives formed a majority government in June, the auditor’s report deals with the actions of the previous Liberal regime in 15 value-for-money audits.
In scrutinizing the province’s transit agency, Metrolinx, Lysyk found the previous minister of transportation improperly influenced the selection of two GO Transit train stations, overriding the agency’s own analysis that suggested the stations should not be built for at least a decade.