Auditor General takes aim at access to health care for remote First Nations

 The Canadian Press 

OTTAWA _ Canada’s auditor general is taking issue with the quality of health care in remote First Nations communities, lacklustre efforts to rehabilitate prisoners and the dearth of oversight governing boutique tax credits _ the Conservative government’s election bauble of choice.

Many of the findings in Michael Ferguson’s spring report to Parliament touch on some key planks of the government’s likely election platform _ protecting Canadians and cutting their taxes _ while exposing more shortcomings in how the country’s Aboriginal population is treated.

Ferguson says despite their big-ticket status, tax-based expenditures _ boutique tax credit measures such as the children’s fitness tax credit, for example _ are not properly evaluated or subject to adequate oversight by Parliament.

The report also finds that Health Canada can’t say for sure that all eligible First Nations individuals in remote communities in Manitoba and Ontario can access sufficient clinical and client care services and medical transportation.

He says Canada lacks a national strategy to deal with the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance _ the emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections, or “superbugs,” due to the misuse of powerful antimicrobial drugs.

The audit also says National Defence should have kept a closer eye on its former watchdog, who extended consultant contracts without proper authorization and approved his own hospitality expense claims.

Ferguson also finds that lower-risk offenders are being released from prison later in their sentences and with less time supervised in the community because Correctional Service Canada recommends early release less often.

Some 80 per cent of offenders were behind bars beyond their first parole eligibility date, while more offenders are being released directly from medium- and high-security penitentiaries.