Ontario has announced new measures aimed at putting an end to recent controversies over government expense claims — including posting the expenses of cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats online.
The move is one of "four additional steps to protect taxpayer dollars and improve accountability," said the province in a news release.
Starting immediately, Ontario Public Service employees will be issued new, simplified guidelines for travel, meals and hospitality expenses. The government says the new measure "boils 25 pages of guidelines down to two pages."
Employees at the 22 largest boards and agencies will undergo mandatory online expense claim training.
And in a move aimed at increasing transparency following the expense scandals at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and at eHealth Ontario, the expenses of "OPS senior management, cabinet ministers, political staff and senior executives at Ontario's 22 largest agencies will be posted online. This will start no later than April 1, 2010," the province said.
"Recently, inappropriate spending practices were uncovered at two of Ontario's agencies. And while the vast majority of public servants follow the rules scrupulously, and work hard to protect tax dollars, some do not. For the sake of Ontario families, this must change," said Premier Dalton McGuinty in a letter to public servants on Monday.
In late August the province fired Kelly McDougald as the CEO of the OLG, claiming the corporation had approved "unacceptable" expenses from lottery executives.
The entire OLG board resigned the same day, while the government called in the auditor general to determine if any rules were broken when executives billed taxpayers for expensive dinners, memberships to Weight Watchers, gyms and golf clubs.
McDougald has filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit, claiming as much $9 million in damages.
In June, Sarah Kramer was fired as the head of eHealth Ontario because of a controversy surrounding spending and expenses since she took over the new agency.
The province said it is also planning to increase the number of random audits it carries out on the province's agencies, boards and commissions.
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