Thursday, November 30, 2006

CAS Spending Spree

Ontario's auditor general has found stunning evidence of improper spending at children's aid societies, CBC News has learned.

CBC News has obtained a final draft of the province's first value for money audit of children's aid societies. The report looks at four of Ontario's biggest agencies, those in Toronto, York, Peel and Thunder Bay.

Calls were made to agencies in Toronto and Thunder Bay as well as the Ontario Association of the Children's Aid Societies, but no one would comment on the report before its official release next week.

The audit details the lack of controls on more than $1 billion in taxpayers' money that Ontario's children's aid societies spend every year.

The auditor's report contains disturbing details of allegedly misspent money.

For example, several executives were apparently given luxury vehicles — including two SUVs worth more than $50,000.

An employee had a staff car, but was also allegedly given $600 per month for the use of their own vehicle.

Numerous meals for child welfare staff at high-end restaurants were expensed, with no explanation.

The auditor also questions expensive trips to the Caribbean, China and Buenos Aires.
Auditor questions funding

Other findings allege the societies aren't following the law to protect children.

In one-third of cases reviewed, initial visits to children at risk were late by an average of three weeks. Some children weren't seen at all.

In the report, the auditor asks why government funding for Ontario's children's aid societies has more than doubled over six years, while the number of families served increased by 40 per cent.

Retired homicide detective Michael Davis says the report makes him angry and disappointed. He's reviewed the deaths of hundreds of children who died while in the care of children's aid societies.

"I think the public is going to be outraged when they hear this," said Davis. "When they look at these perks being used by children's aid societies."