Skip to content

Provincial auditor won’t look into Communities of Tomorrow

Three smaller political parties had wanted Provincial Auditor to investigate agency that had studied impact of asbestos cement pipes.
Tara Clemett has turned down a call from smaller parties to investigate a public private partnership.

REGINA - The Provincial Auditor has turned down a request by three of the smaller political parties in the province to investigate Communities of Tomorrow.

Representatives from the Progressive Conservatives, the Greens and the Saskatchewan Progress Party expressed disappointment that Provincial Auditor Tara Clemett has decided not to look into the $34 million in public money spent on Communities of Tomorrow, which looked into the safety of old asbestos cement water pipes. The organization, described as a public private partnership, wound up in 2013.

“The Government's decision to fund or not fund certain entities, or implement research findings is a policy decision of the Government. Our Office’s mandate does not include assessing the appropriateness of Government’s policy decisions. Rather we focus on the Government’s administration of public policy,” was the statement from Clemett’s office.

The Provincial Auditor also stated they require an "accountability relationship" with the government to make future recommendations, and that did not exist in this case as Communities of Tomorrow ceased operations in 2013. It was also noted the Provincial Auditor's office has conducted numerous public audits in the area of drinking water quality. This included the Water Security Agency's processes to effectively regulate waterworks, which included the City of Regina's drinking water.

The three parties reacted with dismay to the decision. 

“In this case, the government’s administration of public policy involved cutting off funding to a Research Centre which had already established that swallowing asbestos fibres from old water pipes can cause cancer,” said Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter in a statement. “Surely someone in the provincial government read those studies. Why wasn’t the public ever warned?”

“How is it that the government can spend millions of dollars studying something only to find it can pose significant health concerns, and nothing is done,” asked Michael Medby, Saskatchewan Progress Party, in a statement. “The auditor says she doesn’t see any significant risk regarding public money in this case. I would strongly disagree.”

“We were supposed to be attracting people from around the globe. Communities of Tomorrow created a few pilot projects and interesting concepts,” said Rose Buscholl of the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan in a news release. “Unfortunately, that’s all Saskatchewan taxpayers got for $34 million.”