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Foundations Created by Canadian Government under Investigation

(March 7, 2005) Canadian Auditor General Sheila Fraser is scrutinizing the accountability of several foundations created by the federal government.

According to a report published by Fraser in February, the government has given $9 billion since 1997 to arms-length foundations it created to promote science, education, technology and research. Those foundations include the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation, Genome Canada, Sustainable Development Technology Canada and the Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

In that report and in comments made to Parliament, Fraser expresses concerns that $7.7 billion is still sitting in the foundations' bank accounts. She sees room for improvement in three areas regarding the foundations: ministerial oversight; reporting to Parliament and the public; and an external audit and evaluation regime. Fraser also wants to see provisions created that allow ministers to step in when circumstances change significantly or the foundations are working at cross purposes.

The Auditor General does not have access to any foundation audits as such responsibility is not in her purview. However, she has asked Parliament to obtain copies of such audits for the Office of the Auditor General to review. The government has yet to respond.

For a copy of Fraser's report and comments to Parliament, go to the Auditor General's website.

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