Departure of Canada’s Auditor-General

After 10 years of good work, the auditor-general of Canada, Sheila Fraser, is leaving the post. She has done many good deeds like exposing to public scrutiny:

  • waste and mismanagement at the ill-conceived Firearms Registry,
  • corruption and bad management to the highest levels of government,
  • value-for-money was not happening in many programmes including the North, INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada), and
  • the serious national deficit in aging infrastructure in all governments, and also in IT, my favourite.

The North and funding for aboriginal people in Canada is scandalous. By treaty Canada has made commitments that are unfulfilled. Aboriginals particularly in the North are living in squalor despite $billions being spent but not wisely. I can vouch for that in education where aboriginal students may be 2 to 4 years below grade level, have poor attendance and be self-destructive and yet nothing can be done about it because of “policies and procedures” or “turf”. The horrors I have seen in the North make it difficult to get good teachers to go there and turnover is astronomical. In this chaotic system, people who actually do their jobs are punished and scoundrels are rewarded for going along with things. Communication is abysmal like announcements of new programmes getting to the front lines after deadlines have passed. IT is abysmal with reasonable funding passing though so many hands almost nothing is left for the schools who must accept hand-outs just to meet the minimal requirements of the curriculum.

IT generally in government is not properly managed. There are many programmes that require that other OS to be used even though alternative software on FLOSS platforms will do the job. Government is providing that other OS for free to students so that they become loyal customers of M$. If FLOSS were used especially with thin clients, schools could have state of the art systems for half the price and if the taps were opened to permit the allocated funds to reach schools they could have one PC per student and better networks. At the same time insufficient bandwidth is delivered to a school with 100 PCs, about the same as one household with one or two PCs.

Where I worked there was “no budget” for IT at all. If a teacher requested something it was sometimes supplied but usually not. These are schools with hundreds of students and dozens of teachers. They should have annual budgets of 1% of cash flow, perhaps tens of $thousands annually. With that kind of money all kinds of digital peripherals, thin clients, servers and a fat pipe to the Internet could be maintained eliminating many barriers to a first-rate education.

I have no idea how the next auditor will function but I hope the ToDo list retains some of these items. The future of Canada depends on it.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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One Response to Departure of Canada’s Auditor-General

  1. Ray says:

    Unfortulatly, it’s up to the provincial government to do that.

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