Doug Ford's PCs launching inquiry into previous Liberal government's spending

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is vowing to "clean up" the government's finances, in part by launching an inquiry into the previous Liberal regime's spending.

Premier also set to announce plans for a value-for-money audit of Ontario's books

Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his government will take a deep look into the spending practices of the past Liberal regime. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is vowing to "clean up" the government's finances, in part by launching an inquiry into the previous Liberal regime's spending.

The PCs have created an Independent Financial Commission of Inquiry to probe Ontario's past spending and accounting practices. The commission will be led by former B.C. Liberal premier Gordon Campbell, as well as Al Rosen, a forensic accountant, and Michael Horgan, a consultant with decades of public service experience.

"The commission will give you the answers about what went wrong," Ford told reporters, from behind a podium bearing the slogan "Restoring trust."

The commission's findings will be made public, and Ford said the results should provide some advice about how to fix the situation. 

"We go in there, we're going to find additional waste, we're going to find areas that we can drive efficiencies," he said.

The premier is pledging that the inquiry would build on the work of the province's auditor general, Bonnie Lysyk, who has been critical of government accounting standards that she said understate its deficits by billions.

"The office of the auditor general appreciates the government's intent as part of the financial commission of inquiry to address the accounting practices we have previously expressed concerns about,"  Lysyk said in a statement.

In April, Lysyk said the previous Liberal government's deficit projections were off by 75 per cent for 2018-2019, jumping to 92 per cent for 2020-2021.

That means the $6.7 billion deficit projected by the government for 2018-2019 will instead be $11.7 billion, Lysyk said, and the projected $6.5 billion for 2020-2021 will actually be $12.5 billion.

The former Liberal government attributed the discrepancy to an accounting dispute related to calculations surrounding its Fair Hydro Plan and pension expenses.

Government also launching major audit

Ford made the announcement alongside Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy.

The government is also in the early stages of launching a value-for-money audit of the government books, the trio said. Currently, it has issued a public request for bids to consult on an audit with an Aug. 1 deadline.

"We will find out where your money is actually going," Ford said.

With files from The Canadian Press