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Auditor-General's office to cut 60 jobs, reduce number of audits

Auditor-General Michael Ferguson speaks to reporters as he leaves a Commons committee meeting in Ottawa April 26, 2012.

Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Auditor-General's office is cutting 10 per cent of its staff – or 60 jobs – and other parts of government are scrapping a wide range of reports to Parliament, according to the latest details on spending cuts provided by officials.

While MPs engage in procedural warfare over how to study the government's omnibus budget bill, senators on six separate committees are already quizzing dozens of government officials as to what the legislation is trying to accomplish.

Senior Finance Canada officials outlined how the Auditor-General will be cutting back. For instance, the office will no longer audit how the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency report their performance.

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Officials also listed several annual reports all departments will stop tabling, covering a wide range of areas such as public-service management and the use of alternative fuels by government vehicle fleets.

The officials noted that it was the Auditor-General's office that offered up the cuts, worth $6.7-million from its roughly $100-million budget. The total was announced in the budget, but this was the first explanation that it would affect 60 jobs and involve less auditing.

"This is quite an item that should very much concern parliamentarians," Liberal Senator Pierrette Ringuette shot back to witnesses at the Senate national finance committee. Senators on this committee are receiving the first public briefing on the bill since it was introduced two weeks ago.

Ms. Ringuette later said there are numerous measures throughout the bill that make the government less accountable to Parliament.

"The taxpayers of Canada do not want less audit, but more audit, more answers to their questions," she said. "This is completely unacceptable from my perspective, and I think from the citizens of Canada too."

A spokesperson for the Auditor-General said the savings will be achieved largely through attrition and by discontinuing financial audits of about two dozen federal entities.

"Performance audits and special examinations will not be touched," Ghislain Desjardins said.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

A member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999, Bill Curry worked for The Hill Times and the National Post prior to joining The Globe in Feb. 2005. Originally from North Bay, Ont., Bill reports on a wide range of topics on Parliament Hill, with a focus on finance. More

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