Nova Scotia

Auditor general lauds government progress on recommendations, but says there's still work to do

Nova Scotia’s auditor general says the provincial government is doing better than ever as following up on his recommendations, but some entities still have work to do.

Nova Scotia Health Authority has completed only 44% of recommendations from 2014

Nova Scotia Auditor General Michael Pickup discusses his most recent report Tuesday in Halifax. Pickup found that 75 per cent of the recommendations he checked up on had been followed. (CBC)

Nova Scotia's auditor general says the provincial government is doing better than ever at following up on his recommendations, but some entities still have work to do.

Michael Pickup released his report on Tuesday following up on 2014 and 2015 audit recommendations. Overall, Pickup found that 75 per cent of the recommendations he checked up on had been followed.

"This is the highest overall rate we've ever reported," Pickup told reporters.

But it isn't all polka-dots and moonbeams.

Health authority lags on recommendations

Pickup pointed in particular to the Nova Scotia Health Authority, which has only completed two of seven recommendations from December 2014 regarding surgical wait times and operating room use. He noted there was no disagreement from the health authority on his findings, and that there's a commitment to finish the work within two years.

Concerns from Pickup included the lack of performance targets for short-term-surgery wait times. The health authority has said it will meet national standards for hip and knee replacements by 2020, but Pickup noted there have been no interim targets reported to show how it will be achieved.

Health Minister Randy Delorey said the health authority is making progress delivering services, has increased the number of orthopedic surgeries performed, freed up more operating room time and is hiring more surgeons.

Efforts to bring down wait times

"They got over 400 additional orthopedic surgeries between October and the end of the year," Delorey told reporters at Province House. "With additional investment in this budget, we're targeting another 350 on top of that."

The minister said those efforts should contribute to bringing down wait times for hip and knee replacements.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said Pickup's report underlines the lack of public information available.

"We've been critical of the health authority for not doing anything in public," he said, referring to the NSHA's closed board meetings and lack of publicly available minutes.

Work to do on gambling addiction

Pickup's report also noted a lack of progress from the Health Department when it comes to information about gambling addiction rates and evaluating the effectiveness of support programs.

Delorey said more public awareness efforts have been happening since January and a strategy to evaluate the system is being worked on.

100 per cent completion

Pickup's report found 16 government entities had completed 80 per cent or better of their recommendations. Of those, Communications Nova Scotia and the Departments of Justice, Municipal Affairs, Energy, Finance and Transportation all hit 100 per cent.

The Emergency Management Office, Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation, Executive Council Office, Nova Scotia Pension Services Corporation, Public Service Commission and IWK Health Centre also all completed 100 per cent of the recommendations from past audits in 2014 and 2015.

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca