N.S. auditor general report examines shortcomings of 3 government departments, boards

Click to play video: 'NS bridges not adequately monitored says Auditor General'
NS bridges not adequately monitored says Auditor General
WATCH: Nova Scotia's Auditor General Michael Pickup has recommended an overhaul on how the province evaluates its bridges. Jeremy Keefe reports – May 28, 2019

Nova Scotia’s auditor general has released a report examining and criticizing the province’s diversity and inclusion strategy, the Department of Transportation’s management processes, and whether the Workers’ Compensation Board was effectively managing workplace injury claims.

The auditor general, Michael Pickup, discussed his findings to the House of Assembly on Tuesday.

The report was broken into three parts.

Diversity and inclusion in the public service

The auditor general’s report found that the Public Services Commission is promoting diversity and inclusion, but eight of 16 strategic actions tested were not complete.

It also found that the commission did not evaluate whether the goals of its diversity and inclusion strategy were met.

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According to the report, the Public Services Commission, Agriculture, Community Services, and Justice have limited tracking of staff completion of mandatory diversity and employment and equity training.

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Only three to 25 Public Service Commission employees tested had completed the training.

“Employees of the Province of Nova Scotia expect a workforce that is free of discrimination and values diversity,” said Pickup in a press release.

“While work has been completed to promote diversity and inclusion, more is needed,” he added.

Bridge projects in central and western districts

The audit showed that the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal’s bridge information system does not give management all the necessary information needed to make decisions to select bridge replacement, rehabilitation and maintenance projects.

According to the report, if the province were to replace all provincially-owned bridges, it would talk approximately 200 years at the current rate of replacement.

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The report also stated that the department has been failing at properly monitoring warranties.

75 per cent (9 of 12) of projects were not inspected at the end of the warranty period and inspectors did not complete all regular inspections as required.

“Management needs to have complete and accurate information to assist them in making fully informed decisions on which projects to do and when to do them,” said Pickup.

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He says the department is responsible for about 4,200 bridges across the province, but the report found that three bridges were in poor condition and management could not explain why they were not on the district priority listing.

Workers’ Compensation Board claims

Overall, the audit showed that the Workers’ Compensation Board generally manages workplace injury claims effectively, but revealed that the board suffered from weaknesses, such as not being timely and having inadequate complaint and privacy processes.

Over half of the time, auditors showed workers did not receive written claim decisions within 30 days and that half of the workers tested did not receive communication about the calculation of their benefits.

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“Timelines, and processes for complaints and protection of privacy, are just some of the areas that should be addressed to improve the way claims are handled for Nova Scotians,” Pickup said.

Almost half of the auditor’s tests showed that employers inappropriately received sensitive private medical information that was not claim related.

The report states that the WCB should be focusing on quality assurance and staff development.

Sixty-five per cent of WCB employees tested had no record to show crisis prevention training has been taken and performance management processes were not always completed.

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The report contains a total of 27 recommendations from the three audits which have all been accepted by the government.

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