Ontario Auditor General Reports on Ontario’s Response to COVID-19

TORONTO – Bonnie Lysyk, Ontario’s auditor general at a news conference at Queen’s Park, discusses findings contained in her report on the province’s handling of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic.

The Auditor General’s report identifies a number of systemic problems with both the planning and management of Ontario’s response to the pandemic.

The Official Opposition New Democrats say the new report by Ontario’s Auditor General reveals unpreparedness, delays and conflicts as Doug Ford chose to have pandemic decision-making driven by politicians and bureaucrats while public health was pushed onto the sidelines.

“Mr. Ford is responsible for putting us in longer and deeper shutdowns,” said NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh. “He stood up every day at 1 p.m. and lied. He told us that the decisions — often confusing, and contradictory — were being led by health experts. They weren’t.”

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk’s report said the “Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health officials did not lead Ontario’s response to COVID-19.” While a bloated army of political staff and bureaucrats called the shots, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams was sidelined. In her report, Lysyk calls on the government to “immediately assess the role and strength of the Chief Medical Officer of Health to lead Ontario’s response in addressing subsequent waves of COVID-19.”

“Doug Ford says Dr. David Williams is a perfect dance partner – but only because Ford always gets to lead,” said NDP Deputy Leader John Vanthof.

Lysyk found that Williams was barred from using the powers of his office to take actions that could have saved lives.

“This government has abused people’s trust,” said Vanthof. “Doug Ford lifted public health protections too soon because he wanted to save a buck. He didn’t increase testing capacity, and now we know it’s because his government’s didn’t want to pay hospitals. He released a framework that was downright dangerous. None of this was driven by health care. It was a scramble, driven by politicians and political staff.”

On Tuesday night, after seeing Lysyk’s report, the Ford government tried until about midnight to ram through a quick re-appointment of Williams.