Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk will conduct a value-for-money audit of Laurentian University’s finances from 2010 to 2020, Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas has said.
Gélinas, the NDP’s health critic, is also vice-chair of the legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts, which passed a motion last week to have Lysyk look into the university’s troubled financial situation.
“People in Sudbury are angry and confused as to why the Ford government is letting Laurentian University fail,” Gélinas said in a news release. “While we continue our call to restore all programs and put a moratorium on this process, the auditor’s involvement means there will be non-biased answers.”
The release stated Lysyk’s office will conduct an audit to look at the impact changes to Ontario’s post-secondary education funding had on Laurentian’s operations. It will also look for any wrongdoing.
“Many people are suspicious of the CCAA, as decisions are made behind closed doors. Most financial documents are not available publicly,” Gélinas is quoted saying in the release. “Many people are asking for a forensic audit. I am told that KPMG has done a forensic audit for the court, but those documents are not made public. Yet, they form the basis of decisions that are devastating and hard to understand.”
On Sunday, Gélinas told Sudbury.com Lysyk has accepted the work and is assigning an auditor to the job. The AG’s office will provide the committee with an update on May 5.
“She understands the need to clear the situation and make the relevant information public to regain trust and or hold people accountable,” she said in an email. “The auditor is an officer of the legislature -- she has wide-ranging powers from the right to enter premises with or without permission, the right to request documents private or not, the right to question people, etc.
“She knows how to get the financial truth out no matter how good or bad it looks.”
Part of the scope of the audit, Gélinas said, will look into “what went wrong at Laurentian” to ensure other Ontario post-secondary institutions don’t encounter the same problem.
Sudbury MPP Jamie West said the opaque CCAA process doesn’t give the public enough information to understand what happened to the Sudbury university, and an independent public audit is warranted.
“All that Sudburians know right now is that more than 100 workers lost their jobs, strong programs like math, physics, political science, philosophy, environmental science and midwifery have been eliminated, and this doesn’t include the damage done to Indigenous Studies or the bilingual and Francophone programs,” West is quoted saying in the release. “Experts also say that our economy will suffer an annual negative economic impact of $100 million. None of this makes sense. It’s only fair that we have an opportunity to better understand.”