Release of Auditor General’s Report on Value-for-Money Audit of PHO
6 Dec 2023
Earlier today, the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario (OAGO) released their 2023 slate of value-for-money audits. One of those audits was focused on Public Health Ontario (PHO). This report is the result of an audit that the OAGO conducted from January to August of 2023.
PHO thanks the Auditor General for this comprehensive audit report.
The objective of the audit was to assess whether PHO has effective systems and procedures in place to deliver on its mandate and measure and publicly report on the quality and effectiveness of their activities.
The audit involved the review of legislation and regulations, financial and operational data, and a variety of records, interviews with a variety of internal and external stakeholders and direct observation of laboratory operations.
The report released today includes 10 recommendations, which are primarily directed to PHO. The recommendations focus on key areas, including: strengthening and clarifying PHO’s role in Ontario’s public health system; reallocating one-time annual funding to base funding; reducing duplication of effort generating public health research in Ontario through increased coordination and sharing; implementing a plan to streamline laboratory operations; exploring centralized procurement of laboratory courier services; reviewing PHO’s laboratory test menu; strengthening our procurement practices; improving succession planning; and refining performance measures to increase measurement of client satisfaction and outcomes. There is also a recommendation directed to the Ministry of Health related to improving information sharing to enable more effective planning.
Public Health Ontario is committed to fulfilling our mission to enhance the protection and promotion of the health of the people in Ontario and to contribute efforts toward reducing health inequities. By providing scientific and technical advice and leadership to support our clients across the public health and health systems, we enable evidence-informed public health action and decision-making.
When interpreting the findings of the report, it is important to note that the time frame covered by the audit includes more than three years during which PHO was actively engaged in the COVID-19 pandemic response. Due to the need to dedicate considerable resources to the pandemic, some areas of our work did not progress as planned during this period.
As we are now in the process of returning to a “new normal” for the public health system in Ontario, PHO is leveraging the lessons learned during the pandemic to inform the development of our next strategic plan covering the years 2024-29. The insights shared through this audit are helpful inputs that will support us in our commitment to continuous quality improvement and further enhance our leadership role within the public health system.