IWK to appear before Public Accounts Committee following AG report

IWK to appear before Public Accounts Committee following AG report
FILE - Nova Scotia Auditor General Michael Pickup appears before the public accounts committee at the legislature in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017.

Andrew Vaughan/The Candian Press

For two hours on Wednesday morning, the Public Accounts Committee of the Nova Scotia Legislature had the opportunity to ask questions of Auditor General Michael Pickup following his fifth report of 2018.

The report looked into three areas of the public sector: health sector information technology, the financial management controls of the IWK Health Centre and the Workers’ Compensation Board governance and long-term sustainability.

But much of the day’s questions, like the media conference held on Tuesday, centred around the report’s second chapter.

The IWK and their board of directors is currently reeling from a scandal that saw charges laid against two high-ranking executives.

Committee members say it’s important something like that doesn’t happen again, and think spreading awareness of what went on will help prevent it.

“We need to shed as much light on these situations as possible,” said Tim Halman, PC MLA for Dartmouth East. “As an elected official, I want to see as much transparency and accountability when it comes to the IWK.”

“I believe Nova Scotians need to have every opportunity to know what’s transpired here,” Halman said.

Pickup indicated the work his department has done can be used as an accountability tool in the future by the IWK, or any other public entity, in determining whether or not it’s operating above board.

“The results of this audit are pretty clear in terms of what board and senior management need to look at in any organization,” said Pickup. “We can’t be everywhere and auditing everything but I think this could be a chance for people on boards, for people in senior management roles, to step back and say, ‘Let’s look at that report’ and ask themselves, ‘Are we asking the right questions? ”

Liberal MLA for Clare-Digby, Gordon Wilson, echoed that sentiment following the meeting.

“He gives us a good framework of recommendations that ensure that these types of things don’t happen again in the future,” Wilson said.

“That’s the responsibility that we need to take more seriously and ensuring that we have good follow up and good action plans on how to address all of those recommendations.”

Committee members plans to follow up on the findings by bringing the IWK’s executives in to answer questions. They expect it will happen in the coming months.

NDP MLA for Halifax Needham, Lisa Roberts, says it’s likely to take place in early 2019.

She’s already preparing for those upcoming talks and says while the IWK has indicated they’ve accepted all of the recommendations and even begun to implement some of them, she would like for the board to expand on what those efforts have entailed.

“The IWK in its response to the auditor general’s report says that it will have a fraud line in place,” she said.

“I want to know how is that happening? How is that working? And what other steps have they taken to ensure that really a culture that pervaded the organization has been entirely turned around so that we’re really ensuring that Nova Scotians are getting the best value in terms of the health of women and children for their public dollars.”
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