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Quebec’s transport ministry lacks expertise: auditor general

Click to play video: 'Quebec’s transport ministry lacks expertise: auditor general report' Quebec’s transport ministry lacks expertise: auditor general report
WATCH ABOVE: Quebec’s auditor general has raised more concerns with Transports Québec taking aim at the way contracts are handed out. Global’s Raquel Fletcher reports – Jun 14, 2017

Quebec’s auditor general has raised more concerns about the transport ministry. She said contracts are not fairly distributed – small firms are often excluded and cost estimates are not properly conducted.

READ MORE: Transports Quebec suffers from breakdown in communication: auditor general

Last year, a whistle-blower alleged there was major corruption within Transports Québec. The province’s anti-corruption squad opened 10 cases based on the information Annie Trudel gave them on a USB key.

But wednesday, the auditor general said she couldn’t prove Trudel’s allegations.

“I’m not there to answer if the allegations had basis; it’s not my role. The Treasury Board asked me to do a review,” said Guylaine Leclerc.

READ MORE: Fraud victim compensation program is costly but money isn’t going to victims

What she did find was a ministry struggling to keep its costs under control.

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Leclerc didn’t give a dollar figure of how much mismanagement is costing taxpayers, but the overall takeaway from her report is that the ministry lacks the expertise necessary to make sure it’s getting the best price possible.

And that’s a big deal because the ministry contracts out 95 per cent of its work to private firms. Leclerc said the ministry is not properly ensuring the quality of the work being done either.

“This is absolutely what we’ve been saying since three weeks, since the beginning of our strike. We have a problem with the expertise at the Ministere des Transport du Quebec and the auditor general is saying absolutely the same thing,” said the engineers’ union president, Marc-André Martin.

READ MORE: Could Quebec engineers be forced back to work?

Government engineers returned to work Wednesday after the government threatened to legislate them back. The union insists low wages are driving away experienced employees, but the Treasury Board president had a different interpretation of Leclerc’s report:

“Nowhere in that report does the auditor general provide that there’s not enough engineers at the transport department,” Pierre Moreau, said.

Moreau made a final offer to engineers at 5 p.m. As for fixing the problems with the transport ministry, he said the government has already started hiring more experienced employees.

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