President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Joe Ceci has provided the following response to the Auditor General’s report:
“One of the most important things we have done as a government is to improve the transparency and accountability of agencies, boards and commissions. This process is being conducted to improve transparency and accountability of ABCs, get better value for taxpayers and reduce costs.
“While much of this work has been done in a systematic, government-wide approach, there are times when dramatic corrective action has been necessary.
“This was the case with the Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC). In June, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry dismissed the board, and three senior executives were removed from active duty. This action was taken because our internal auditors found board oversight needed to be strengthened and senior executives accepted gifts from vendors.
“The report that was released today by the Auditor General provides further reasons to why my colleague, Agriculture and Forestry Minister Oneil Carlier, did the right thing by taking such action. Beyond the issues that were uncovered in June, the Auditor General has also determined there are issues involving the management and clarity of strategic direction of AFSC that need to be addressed.
“Since the removal of the board and the suspension of the senior executives in June, the following action has been taken to ensure AFSC better serves Alberta farmers and helps grow the rural economy:
- An Interim Board of Directors consisting of senior civil servants has been appointed and Ed Knash, vice-president for business and agriculture for ATB Financial, has been named the interim Chief Executive Officer.
- An open recruitment process for a new, permanent board of directors is underway and a new board is expected to be in place by the New Year.
“A review is still underway to determine appropriate disciplinary action for the executives and the matter has also been referred to law enforcement for review to determine if additional actions are required.
“The Auditor General has also reported on other ways where our government has and will be taking action based on his advice.
We will act on his recommendations to ensure that recipients of AISH will have improved access to this program and that wait times for approval will be reduced.
“Our departments continue to work to ensure the successful implementation of the Auditor General’s outstanding recommendations.”