Auditor general report findings downplayed by Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has downplayed concerns over the contents of today's auditor general report, which includes a chapter on whether Veterans Affairs Canada provided ex-soldiers with timely access to mental health services and benefits. CBCNews.ca will have coverage of Michael Ferguson's report starting at 10 a.m. ET.

Live coverage of auditor general's report begins at 10 a.m ET

Auditor General Michael Ferguson will table his 2014 fall report in the Commons today. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has downplayed concerns over the contents of today's auditor general report, which includes a chapter on whether Veterans Affairs provided ex-soldiers with timely access to mental health services and benefits.

CBCNews.ca will have coverage of the auditor general's findings after the report is tabled in the Commons around 10 a.m. ET. You can also watch Auditor General Michael Ferguson take questions from reporters live at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Today's audit report comes after back-to-back announcements of new federal spending for programs and research that will benefit veterans, as well as new money announced last Friday for a subsidized food program in the North.

Opposition critics and groups representing veterans have been skeptical of the government's motivation behind the new funding, accusing the Conservatives of wanting to get ahead of potentially bad news.

Harper was at an event in London, Ont., on Monday, where he was asked if he was worried about the auditor general's report.

"That process is part of what goes on in government regularly, to look at departments' various performance. Departments obviously always take into account the findings of the auditor general.

"At the same time, we have recommendations from parliamentary committees and others who have studied veterans funding on where we can fill gaps and improve services and that's what we're responding to," Harper said.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, who came under fire again last week, this time over $1.13 billion in so-called lapsed fundin​g, will be out of the country today.

"Minister Fantino has joined the delegation of Second World War Veterans for the 70th anniversary of the Italian campaign in Italy," a spokeswoman for the minister told CBC News in an email on Monday.

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson will speak on Fantino's behalf, the office for the veterans affairs minister confirmed.

While the audit on mental health services focuses primarily on Veterans Affairs Canada, it also looks at initiatives within the Department of National Defence. A different chapter examines relocation services provided by the Armed Forces and the RCMP.

The auditor general's fall report will also tell Canadians how Aboriginal Affairs has administered the Nutrition North Canada program and how the government managed its financial support to the auto sector.

Other chapters will look at Canada's response to the onset of humanitarian crises, whether the RCMP and the Department of Justice made it a priority to combat crime here and abroad, and finally how Library and Archives performed in the preserving of government records.


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