TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford on Monday disputed an audit report that concluded his government owes thousands of taxpayers a collective $19.5 million for expenses billed to the clerk’s office.
Ford said it was “false” that his government had not paid off $9 million in “unpaid bills” and “impossible” that $12.5 million in spending were never billed to the office of the deputy minister, who manages the day-to-day operations of the Ontario Public Service.
“The auditor has been briefed on the mistakes made in this report,” Ford said. “This is not accurate. And the documents speak for themselves.”
Ford called the audit, which he called “unsatisfactory,” “not 100 per cent accurate” and “not like the information that was sent to us” in email correspondence with Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.
Ford said the report was biased and based on an inaccurate draft that was never approved by the auditor general, despite getting one re-write from the Liberal attorney general’s office.
In the report released on Monday, Lysyk said the province’s finance ministry hadn’t made necessary changes to bills that were in dispute. As a result, the government was deemed to have breached its contract with the clerk’s office, the report said.
The auditor’s office recommended that government offices stopped billing the office of the deputy minister until the government pays the disputed costs and the clerk’s office updates the contracts to reflect the change in the government’s actions.
According to the audit, a then-internal review of 37 bills from the government and audited members’ offices in 2017 and 2018 found that more than $31 million in bills were in dispute.
There were also deficiencies in the administration of bills charged to deputy ministers and in the risk-management policies of the government, the report said.