Wednesday November 22, 2017

Midweek podcast: Rachel Notley on pipelines, and the AG shares his frustrations

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. (CBC)

Listen to Full Episode 29:47

Rachel Notley has hit the road to deliver her pipeline message to the rest of the country.

The Alberta Premier was in Ottawa this week as part of an outreach effort to increase the level of support for future pipelines.

She's also visited Toronto, and will also travel to Vancouver where there is strong opposition to Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain project.

Notley's core message is that her province is doing its part to fight climate change, and that the economic benefits of pipeline projects wouldn't be solely felt in Alberta. 

"It shouldn't be just Albertans who care about this," she told The House. "It should be all Canadians."

Notley also said she hopes she won't be the only one doing outreach, that the Prime Minister will also do his part.

"We're looking forward to seeing more of that," she said.

CPP Decisions 20170604

Auditor General Michael Ferguson speaks during a press conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

The House also spoke to auditor general Michael Ferguson following the release of his falls reports, and the normally even-keeled Ferguson had trouble hiding his frustration with the federal government.

"I keep delivering the same message: that the government doesn't understand the results from the citizen's perspective," he said during his opening remarks.

"It appears that our message is not being heard at the whole-of-government level, and that concerns me."

Here are some of the key findings from the fall 2017 report of federal auditor general Michael Ferguson:

  • It is going to take years and "much more" than the original projected $540 million over three years to fix the chronic and ongoing problems with the snafu-stricken Phoenix public service pay system; the government may be "in a similar situation" to Australia, where a comparable problem has already cost more than $1.2 billion over eight years and still isn't fixed.
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada and the Treasury Board failed to recognize early enough the depth and severity of the Phoenix problem, and failed to involve other departments in developing a timely plan to deal with the issue.
  •  Agents at the Canada Revenue Agency's call centre, meant to assist taxpayers with their tax questions, answered only 36 per cent of all incoming calls and provided incorrect answers to auditors nearly 30 per cent of the time.
  • The CRA blocked some 29 million of the 53.5 million incoming calls during the audit period, resulting in a busy signal or a message to try back later. Each blocked caller made an average of three or four calls per week, often never getting through. Those that eventually did allowed the agency to claim 90 per cent of callers were able to connect.
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not track a number of key indicators about the integration of Syrian refugees, including whether those with chronic health problems were getting treatment and whether children were actually attending school.
  • The Royal Military College of Canada was not being run in a cost-effective way, lacked effective governance and often failed to provide effective instruction on military leadership for its officer cadets, contributing to a number of incidents of improper conduct.
  • Women offenders with significant impairment from serious mental illness are still being placed in segregation, and those same cells are often used to monitor prisoners at risk of self-harm or suicide, allowing limited oversight.
  • Correctional Service Canada uses a 25-year-old custody rating scale designed for male prisoners to assess female offenders for correctional programming, increasing their risk of taking programs that can't help them.
  • Female prisoners are often held past their parole eligibility dates because their correctional programs are too long and not designed to meet their needs.
  • Indigenous female offenders don't always get appropriate access to programming designed specifically to meet the unique needs of Aboriginal Peoples.
  • Health Canada cannot adequately assess the effectiveness of its oral health services programs for Indigenous Peoples.