I thought it was bad when the Auditor General of Ontario called the fair hydro plan bogus, irregular and improper. And it was worse when the auditors general of provinces across the country, plus the federal auditor, agreed with Bonnie Lysyk.
Now Lysyk has come out with a new report that says the province’s fiscal projections are not “reasonable.”
The government is required by law to issue a pre-election update on the state of the province’s finances and the officer of the Auditor General is required to issue an opinion on whether the report is reasonable.
Turns out that Lysyk says the province is off on the size of the deficit, to the tune of more than $5 billion based on two key issues.
In my opinion, the Pre-Election Report is not a reasonable presentation of Ontario’s finances because of the
understatement of expenses resulting from the Fair Hydro Plan and from the understatement of pension
expenses relating to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and the Ontario Public Sector Employees’ Union
(OPSEU) Pension Plan…
Lysyk says the government is keeping debt from the Fair Hydro Plan off the books and claiming pension revenues as assets when they don’t have full control of the pensions or the legal right to do so. The hydro plan trick should see $2.4 billion added to the deficit while the pension trick would add $2.6 billion to the deficit.
Premier Wynne dismisses this report as part of “ongoing discussions” with the auditor on discrepancies in how accounting should be done. It’s much more than that.
Professor Ian Lee from Carleton described the Wynne government’s accounting of the hydro plan as having elements of both Watergate and Enron in it. He said it is like Watergate because the government wants to dismiss this growing scandal as nothing to look at, Enron because the government is using off book accounting tricks to hide debt.
Now they are booking pension assets to lower the size of the deficit, which the auditor general now says stands at $11.7 billion this year instead of the claimed $6.7 billion. The deficits would also be higher in each of the next several years for all the same reasons.
Wynne can’t be gone soon enough, Ontario needs sanity and truth when it comes to the provinces finances.