Alberta’s $300 million investment each year to reduce the number of students per class has not produced results, says the province’s Auditor General in his report released Thursday. It also examines the management of the province’s investments in the energy sector.
Alberta’s Auditor General, Merwan Saher, explains in his report that the money spent on reducing the number of students per class is more likely to fund the regular activities of elementary and secondary schools in the province.
He deplores the fact that fewer schools and boards reach the target number of students per class in 2017 than in 2004, despite a total public investment of $2.7 billion.
The report recommends the establishment of a supervisory system and the establishment of clear objectives for the class reduction program. The Auditor General also recommends that the average number of students per class be made public for each school board.
Sturgeon refinery, a poorly measured risk
The Auditor General also warns the province of the risks associated with its partnership with the Sturgeon refinery, northeast of Edmonton. In 2011, the province committed to supplying the refinery with oil for 30 years for a total bill of $ 26 billion.
Merwan Saher says the province should keep Albertans better informed about the risks associated with large strategic investments. The Alberta Petroleum Marketing Board, which signed the Sturgeon Refinery Supply Agreement, does not have the mechanisms in place to assess and manage the financial risks that this type of agreement places on the province. Merwan Saher regrets the lack of information available about the deal. According to him, this question arises only when elected officials or citizens are interested.
All Albertans receive are comments made from time to time by citizens or elected officials who choose to raise this issue
Merwan Saher, Auditor General of Alberta
Merwan Saher would like the commission to publish an annual report that clearly explains to what level of risk the provincial government is exposed as a result of the agreement.
The report also looks at the grants awarded to the Pure North Foundation . For many years, Alberta has allowed a private foundation to offer an unproven health program to the people of Alberta who, according to health professionals, may have put the health of thousands of vulnerable people at risk. The Pure North Foundation, created in 2007, received a $ 10 million grant despite numerous warnings about program safety, ethics and effectiveness.
According to the report, this grant was awarded without the normal process being followed. It was also against the opinion of the officials who evaluated the application submitted by the foundation. The report recommends reviewing the reinforcement of rules intended to prevent conflicts of interest. Alberta’s former Deputy Minister of Health Carl Amrhein, who joined in 2015, was previously associated with Pure North. In particular, he signed two letters extolling the merits of the foundation while he was dean at the University of Alberta.