Statement on Auditor General’s Report on Island Employment Association
NOTE: The following is a statement from Jill Balser, Minister of Labour, Skills and Immigration.
Today, the Auditor General’s Office released its report on Island Employment, a service provider contracted by the government to deliver employment services to the local community.
The investigation confirms findings first made by the Ombudsman’s Office of “misuse or gross mismanagement of public funds or assets.”
It also confirms why – within weeks of forming government – we acted appropriately and swiftly. And we did this while remaining focused on maintaining services to Nova Scotians.
As a new Minister, I authorized my Department to end funding to the organization in September 2021, and we also referred the matter to the police.
At the time, some questioned our decision to end our funding agreement. I hope now, with the Auditor General’s detailed report of findings, this decision is better understood.
The government is obligated to hold service providers accountable for delivering the services we have contracted them to provide to Nova Scotians. While it can be difficult to guard against deliberate acts of unethical behaviour and mismanagement of funds, we must guard against it, hold people accountable and continually review and improve our processes.
That’s why we have accepted the Auditor General’s recommendations on all points and have already begun to implement many of them, including requiring service providers to provide more detailed financial information to us, periodic reviews of providers’ financial practices by external auditors, and other monitoring mechanisms.
As Nova Scotians hear about the misconduct of a few, we must remember: the vast majority of Nova Scotians who work in community-based non-profit organizations do good work. This is best exemplified by the people who did the right thing and reported the misconduct. I want to express my sincere thanks to them, again, for speaking out and speaking up to make these investigations possible.
I also want to thank the Ombudsman’s Office and Auditor General’s Office for their work. We have already learned from this and will do better to protect the public interest.