The federal auditor general says after five years of pointing out flaws in the bureaucracy, “it’s deja vu all over again” in his Fall report.
Michael Ferguson says tax disputes take too long to resolve–an average of 263 days for individual tax objections between 2011 and 2016. The report says Canada Revenue Agency uses incomplete and inaccurate methods to evaluate how well objections are dealt with. He adds CRA can do more to resolve issues before objections are filed pointing out nearly two-thirds of cases reviewed were eventually resolved either fully or partially in favour of the taxpayer.
Ferguson who is halfway through his 10-year mandate acknowledges some themes continue to show up in his reports year-after-year. Among the recurring issues is the ongoing Beyond the Border initiative. It’s supposed to make it easier–and more secure–for people and goods to move between Canada and the United States while improving national security. The AG says there’s still no way the effectiveness of the program can be demonstrated to ordinary Canadians.
Military cost estimates are another recurring issue. Ferguson says the Department of National Defence continually underestimates maintenance costs for critical hardware, including ships, aircraft and armoured vehicles. As an example, he cites Canada’s Victoria-class submarines. In-depth maintenance for the subs was supposed to cost $35 million per vessel but ended up at $321 million.
Military recruiting is also singled out by the the federal watchdog who says the system is simultaneously rife with red tape and cut to the bone by the previous Conservative government. Ferguson says the result is a shrinking number of military personnel as more people have left the Canadian Forces than joined up in recent years, which has put additional strain on those remaining in uniform.
The report also notes indigenous offenders are not getting the help they need to reintegrate into society once released from prison. The AG says it’s one more in a long list of examples of how the federal government is “squandering” the potential of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.