Ontario auditor general report: Here are the highlights

Highlights from the Ontario auditor general's annual report include teachers taking more sick days, government buildings sitting empty and cancer surgery wait times.

Teachers taking more sick days, government buildings sitting empty, cancer surgery wait times

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk tabled her annual report in the legislature on Wednesday. (Mike Crawley/CBC)
  • The number of sick days being taken by school board employees has jumped 29 per cent since 2011-12, after the province stopped allowing teachers to bank their unused sick time and cash it out as a bonus upon retirement. 
  • Nearly one in six provincial government buildings is sitting empty. It's costing taxpayers $18.9 million annually to maintain 812 vacant provincially owned buildings. 
  • More than half of all biopsies, and urgent surgeries for nearly all types of cancer, are not being performed within the 14-day targets set by the Health Ministry. 
  • The province's emergency response plans have not been updated in eight years, while 80 per cent of all emergency practice tests happened in meeting rooms, not on the ground.
  • The province's Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) has failed to act on recommendations that could have saved Ontarians millions on their hydro bills. It has been warned repeatedly that its payments to private power plants were vulnerable to abuse. 
  • The government spent $58 million on advertising last year, more than it has in a decade. Nearly one-third of that spending was on ads designed "to make the government look good," the auditor said. 
  • There are more households on the waiting list for social housing (about 185,000) than there are social housing units in the province (167,000). Each year, only five per cent of people on the waitlists get a spot. 
  • The backlog of property assessment appeals is growing, even though the number of appeals filed has been dropping significantly in the past decade. 
  • Municipalities spent up to $4 million each on external legal fees and expert witnesses to defend their official plans at the Ontario Municipal Board, even though these plans had already been approved by councils and the province. 
  • Half of the farmers who received money from the province's $100 million-a-year fund to compensate for crop damage and unexpected price drops did not actually have lower income than they did the year before receiving the compensation.