New Brunswick

AG Kim MacPherson releases audits on health, silviculture

Auditor General Kim MacPherson is releasing a new report that is detailing audits into infection control in hospitals, as well as chapters on silviculture and private wood supply.

Auditor general is outlining her latest report to the legislative assembly

Auditor General Kim MacPherson released her latest report to the legislature on Tuesday. (CBC)

Auditor General Kim MacPherson has released a new report detailing audits into infection control in hospitals, as well as chapters on silviculture and private wood supply.

MacPherson outlined her latest report to the legislature on Tuesday morning.

The auditor general's report described how the province's two regional health authorities do have infection prevent and control programs in place.

"However, our work identified numerous deficiencies. We have made recommendations for corrective action," the report said.

The auditor general's report also recommended the Department of Health work with the Horizon and Vitalité health authorities to develop a provincial infection prevention and control program and strategy for use in all New Brunswick hospitals.

The report said the department and two health authorities agreed with the recommendations.

DNR isn't following law

The auditor general latest report found many problems and failures to live up to the Crown Lands and Forests Act. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
The auditor general also issued several recommendations regarding how the Department of Natural Resources handles silviculture and private wood supply.

The chapters on both issues outlined many problems and failures to live up to the law.

The province's chief financial watchdog says the provincial government has no way to determine if it is getting value for money for the $29 million it spends on silviculture.

In the five years that she examined, between 2009-14, the department "fell short in fulfilling some of its related management and oversight responsibilities," the report said.

The department has not acquired silviculture services "with due regard for economy and efficiency," said MacPherson.

The auditor general's report also said the department has a bias towards economic development and industry in managing the Crown forest.

Further, silviculture decisions were driven by the department objective to help the forest industry and for economic development, according to the report.

MacPherson said there were examples found how the department gave licensees flexibilities by relaxing planting standards, there have been financial concessions granted to a licensee after deficiencies were found during monitoring and direction has been delayed so the government can help the companies.

The auditor general also pointed out in her report how several studies into the forest industry have been undertaken in the last decade.

But her report said the recommendations "have not been adopted or responded to by the department."

MacPherson also raised concerns about weak oversight of private wood supply.

She said the department is also not complying with the Crown Lands and Forests Act.

Under the law, the department is supposed to ensure wood supply that is taken from private land is proportionate to the timber cut on Crown land.

In the report, the auditor general said the provincial government has failed to adhere to this legislative requirement.

"They have not planned for, monitored, or reported on proportional supply since at least 2002," MacPherson's report said.

Coon concerned about AG's audits

Green Party Leader David Coon said he wants to clearly understand the auditor general's recommendations in her latest report so he can hold the government to account in implementing the proposed changes. (CBC)
Green Party Leader David Coon said on Monday he is very interested to see the chief financial watchdog's report on silviculture.

He said he believes this is the first report done on the issue of silviculture in New Brunswick.

"[The auditor general] does value-for-money audits and the provincial government has been handing tens of millions of dollars every year over to the large forestry companies who hold licences on Crown land," Coon said.

"So the question is, is it returning what it is supposed to be returning to the people of New Brunswick?"

Silviculture involves getting rid of smaller trees to open up space for newer trees to grow.

Coon said he has many questions on how companies are reimbursed and what type of oversight is done to ensure taxpayers are getting value for their dollars.

As an opposition MLA, Coon said he wants to thoroughly understand the auditor general's recommendations so he can hold the government accountable in following through on them.

This is the second report issued in 2015 by the auditor general. In January, MacPherson raised concerns about the provincial government's mounting debt and deficit levels.

She also released her damning report into the former Shawn Graham government's handling of the Atcon fiasco earlier this year.


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