TCHC Follow Up

Just perusing the Auditor General’s report about the shenanigans going on over at Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). The 2 titles of the document say it all, pretty much. Procurement Policies and Procedures Are Not Being Followed & Controls Over Employee Expenses Are Ineffective. Yikes! It is grisly, grisly reading, no question. Made worse by the fact that TCHC is responsible for some 160,000 tenants throughout the city, most of whom… “are households with low or moderate family income, seniors, refugees and people with special needs.” They might as well have been eating bonbons ($1000 from Holt Renfrew) right off the sweaty, bed bug bitten backs of the poor.

It is grist for the Mayor’s mill to grind. Gooey coal to feed his Gravy Train and all that. But here’s a few things from the report you probably won’t be hearing from the mayor’s team over the next few days.

1) This is a report that was initiated under Mayor Ford’s predecessor, the free spending David Miller. So it’s not dirt uncovered at the behest of our current mayor although he will undoubtedly exploit it to his advantage for all it’s worth.

2) The Auditor General says that there were rules in place already to deal with the questionable financial practices (questionable but not illegal, it is important to point out) but that the rules were routinely ignored and flaunted. Which is not good but some of those responsible for this lack of oversight have already been terminated, hopefully without too much extreme prejudice, a new CEO installed, process has begun to restore the proper chain of command and to seek redress and repayment of improperly allocated funds.3) TCHC received some $304.4 million in funding from the city in 2009. That was roughly .0349885 of the total operating budget that year. In his report, the Auditor General suggested with better procurement practices, TCHC might’ve saved anywhere from $4-$10 million. While uncertain of the numbers in terms of dubious employee expenses, it was very likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. Give the AG his high number from the procurement estimates, match it with questionable employee expenses which is wildly inflated, just so you know, and that ends up at $20 million. That’s .065703 of the money TCHC received from the city and .0022988 of the total 2009 operating budget.

I am not sneezing at the money here. Clearly, it should’ve been applied properly to areas of true need. No question. But it is hardly the runaway gravy train the mayor likes to portray city agencies as being. And it will hardly help him substantially when he goes to try and balance the budget next year.

4) Most importantly, the Auditor General writes, “…it has been evident throughout this review that one of the major issues that needs to be addressed is the requirement for increased operational coordination and co-operation between the TCHC and the City.” Increased operational coordination and co-operation between the TCHC and the City. That’s kind of the exact opposite of suggesting the city unload the organization or try to privatize it in some way. In the report, the Auditor General quotes Madame Justice Bellamy in calling for “good government” not less government. It’ll be interesting to watch how the mayor and his team try spinning this into getting out of social housing in order to benefit those who depend on it.

There is no way to put lipstick on this particular pig. It’s ugly. But to use the report simply in order to further purely ideological politics rather than a self-correcting guideline is most certainly not an example of good government. Let’s use it as an opportunity to fix something that’s broken.

level headedly submitted by Cityslikr