5 Key Takeaways from the Auditor General’s Reports on Federal Public Service

The Thursday reports from Canada’s auditor general, Karen Hogan, have highlighted several significant issues within the federal public service.

Karen Hogan
Karen Hogan

Below are five major things to know from the reports.

1. Absence of New Antimicrobial Drug Access

The government’s efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance were found to be inadequate. The report noted that the government lacks measurable goals and timelines in its plan to address antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, Canadians don’t have access to 19 out of 29 antibiotics classified as reserve antibiotics by the World Health Organization, despite the growing global threat of antimicrobial resistance.

2. Refugee Application Delays

Immigration backlogs in Canada are disproportionately affecting refugees. While processing times for most permanent residency programs improved in 2022, refugee and humanitarian program applicants face even longer delays. Some applicants have waited nearly three years for decisions. The auditor general recommended the creation of an online application process to address the issue.

3. Outdated Government IT

The report revealed that progress on modernizing IT systems across the federal public service has been slow. Many of the 7,500 applications used by departments and agencies are in poor condition, with some systems dating back to the 1960s. The outdated IT systems pose risks of failure that could disrupt benefits delivery and income tax refunds.

4. Benefits Delivery Modernization Issues

The federal Benefits Delivery Modernization Programme, launched in 2017 to modernize the delivery of benefits like the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, has faced significant delays and rising costs. Key migrations have been pushed back, and the estimated cost of the project has increased by 43%, reaching $2.5 billion.

5. Challenges in Fighting Racism and Discrimination in Public Service

Efforts to combat racism and discrimination in major government departments and agencies were found to be falling short. The auditor general highlighted a lack of true commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Racialized employees’ work lives aren’t adequately tracked for improvement, and accountability for behavioural and cultural change was deemed limited and not effectively measured.

The reports have led federal ministers to accept the findings and pledge to implement the auditor general’s recommendations. The issues raised underscore the need for the government to address various challenges in the public service, from healthcare to immigration and information technology.

Source: The Canadian Press 

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