QUEEN’S PARK – Today Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman, PC Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing, released expenses, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, which show Housing Services Corporation’s CEO is travelling the world while Ontarians wait for social housing.
“While people are waiting for an affordable home the CEO of Housing Services Corporation spent $5,000 in airport limos and taxis in just over a year,” said Hardeman. “This non-profit organization is supposed to be providing services for Ontario housing providers, but they are spending thousands and thousands of dollars travelling around the world.”
Expenses for Howie Wong, CEO of Housing Services Corporation (HSC), over 15 months include a trip to Santa Barbara, California; six trips to Vancouver and three trips to England, one of which included a $300 change fee for moving the flight 24 hours. Previous expenses included seven more trips to England as well as trips to Los Angeles, Vancouver, Newfoundland and Sydney, Australia.
The receipts include bottles of wine, beef tartare, filet mignon and dinners at upscale restaurants such as Oliver and Bonacini’s Jump.
Someone reviewed the expenses following the Freedom of Information request. A number of the receipts, dating back as far as 2013, have notes that they have now been reimbursed to 2015 cap levels and items such as alcohol have been repaid.
“When questionable expenses are only paid back after a Freedom of Information request is filed it’s clear that there is a problem with how money is being spent,” said Hardeman. “Do we need to file Freedom of Information requests for every single HSC employee to make sure social housing dollars aren’t misspent?”
Hardeman pointed out that when questions were raised about previous HSC expenditures Wong stated that he would now personally review and approve all expenses.
“When a person spends $82,000 in social housing money traveling the world I don’t think he’s the one you put in charge of making sure money isn’t being wasted,” said Hardeman. “The government may find it acceptable to put the fox in charge of the hen house, but I don’t.”
Housing Services Corporation funds their operations by marking up the cost of insurance and natural gas for social housing providers. Hardeman’s private members bill the Housing Services Corporation Accountability Act that would allow the provincial auditor to investigate Housing Services Corporation is scheduled for second reading debate on April 16.