New Brunswick

N.B.'s auditor general leaving to take on AG role in Nova Scotia

Kim Adair-MacPherson, who has shone a spotlight on the province's finances and responsibilities for more than 10 years, will be the first woman to hold the auditor general post in Nova Scotia.

Kim Adair-MacPherson will be first woman to hold auditor general post in Nova Scotia

Kim Adair-MacPherson is leaving her post as New Brunswick's auditor general. She will take on the same role in Nova Scotia on May 3. (Catherine Harrop/CBC News file photo)

New Brunswick's auditor general is leaving her post, and the province. 

Kim Adair-MacPherson, who has presided over independent audits and provided advice on how the provincial government is managing its resources for more than 10 years, will take on the role of auditor general for Nova Scotia on May 3.

She will become the first woman to hold that post in Nova Scotia. 

In a statement Thursday, Adair-MacPherson said she has been honoured to serve as the province's auditor general.

"The last 10 years as auditor general of New Brunswick have been especially rewarding, and I want to express my sincere appreciation for the opportunity to serve my home province and the legislative assembly in this important capacity," she said.

"During my mandate, in addition to delivering independent financial and performance audits, my personal focus has been to build and strengthen our audit team, modernize the Auditor General Act, obtain additional budget to increase performance audit resources and encourage a more effective Public Accounts Committee.

"I leave the office with a huge feeling of accomplishment and gratitude for the support of legislators, both past and present." 

Ministerial expenses

NB

10 years ago
2:03
Auditor General Kim MacPherson says departments must keep closer tabs on constituency expenses charged by cabinet ministers 2:03

A floodlight on province's finances, responsibilities

During her tenure, which was to end last year but was extended to December 2021, Adair-MacPherson has frequently flagged concerns about the province's debt levels, education system, nursing homes, Ambulance New Brunswick response times, ministerial expenses and more, in sometimes scathing reports.

In 2015, she issued a blistering critique of how the Liberals, under then-premier Brian Gallant, were accounting for public-sector pension plans, saying the provincial government's math wasn't credible and its 2014-15 deficit figure wasn't accurate.

She noted in her statement that it was the first time in 17 years that a New Brunswick auditor general hadn't been able to deliver a "clean audit" of the provincial government's public accounts.

Auditor General Kim MacPherson in 2015, preparing to brief a legislature committee on her annual report. (Jacques Poitras/CBC News file photo)

In her latest report in February, she raised concerns over NB Power's management of its debt, provincial oversight of an electronic medical record program and the province's failure to address the increasing demand for nursing home beds.

She also highlighted her office's lack of access to information from the third-party administrator of the province's $18-billion public pension plan, Vestcor.

Formerly a Crown agency, the plan was reorganized in 2016 as an independent body to allow it to solicit outside accounts and contended it is no longer subject to Adair-MacPherson's authority.

Adair-MacPherson disputed that on several grounds, but Premier Blaine Higgs sided with Vestcor and said his government will not pass special legislation she requested to require the body to submit to her oversight.

She has not said whether a court application is under consideration, noting: "I surely hope it doesn't come to that because that's a costly, lengthy exercise."

Then-premier Shawn Graham, right, and Atcon president Robbie Tozer, centre, at a news conference. Auditor general Kim Adair MacPherson conducted several audits of the multimillion-dollar fiasco. (CBC News file photo)

'Major breakthroughs' under Adair-MacPherson's watch

In a statement on Thursday, Premier Blaine Higgs thanked her for 36 years of service.

"On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I would like to thank Ms. Adair-MacPherson for her 36 years of service with the provincial government, including the last 10 years as auditor general," Higgs said.

"We thank her for her professionalism and dedication to New Brunswickers and wish her all the best with her new position."

Green Party Leader David Coon said Adair-MacPherson was an exceptional auditor general who made "some major breakthroughs" during her tenure, including staring down the Liberal government over Atcon in 2017.

The Miramichi-based construction company was badly managed when the Liberal government of Shawn Graham made $63.4 million in loans guarantees, despite concerns raised by government officials, before the company went bankrupt in 2010.

"When she saw that there ... were some real issues that needed to be rooted out, she went ahead and invested the money needed" to investigate exactly what went down on the Atcon file, "to the benefit of New Brunswickers."

She also built the office of the auditor general into a force to be reckoned with, fighting to have its low budget increased and brought on par with the other Maritime provinces, Coon said.

Finding a replacement won't be easy, he said, but needs to happen soon.

"It's essential," Coon said. "We are short a number of legislative officers, and for the Public Accounts Committee to do its job of holding government departments accountable for the way they spend public money they need the auditor general to be fully functional."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marie Sutherland is a web writer with CBC News based in Saint John. You can reach her at marie.sutherland@cbc.ca.

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