The Auditor General’s latest report provides a harsh critique of how government has managed its loans, grants and investments in business and innovation.
The AG’s report covers a three-year period from June 2018 till late 2021.
Those were the first years of the newly formed Innovation and Business Investment Corporation born out of the former Business Investment and Research and Development corporations.
It’s tasked with doling out public money as a loan, grant or investment to entities they believe will yield a positive return.
But the AG found the system was ripe for fraud and overpayments, with still $6 million in delinquent loans dating back 20, even 40 years.
The failures were more pronounced during the pandemic, when there were seven times more transactions than usual, and even less oversight with the focus on getting money out the door.
AG Denis Hanrahan says she took that and other reasonable factors into account but was taken aback to find there was no plan to recoup the ill-gotten money or overpayments.
The province relented after seeing the audit, and now plans to go after only money picked up in the report—deciding against a review of all COVID business payouts.
The province says it’s committed to implementing the audit’s six recommendations.