WHEN WILL HOUSING MONEY USED FOR SOUTH AFRICA VACATION BE REPAID?Published on October 22, 2015
QUEEN’S PARK –Today, Ontario PC Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing Ernie Hardeman (MPP for Oxford) asked Premier Wynne whether any action has been taken to recover the thousands of dollars of social housing money used to pay for an 8-day South African vacation when she was Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“Can the Premier tell us whether the government has taken any steps to recover the thousands of taxpayers’ dollars that were spent on the luxury South African vacation under her watch?” asked Hardeman during the question. “I’ve read the government’s independent review. It failed to find any of these expenses or take steps to get that money back.”
The Premier refused to say whether the government had taken any action to recover the money and referred the supplementary question to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.
Housing Services Corporation paid for an 8-day vacation package for board member Diane Deans. The package included meals, accommodation in a luxury apartment and excursions such as winery tours and a visit to Robben Island. Deans also expensed $5,596.07 for business class air fare to South Africa and $585.36 for medical insurance for the 17 day trip.
“The correct response to discovering that social housing money has been misused would be for the government to commit to investigate and try to get the money back, but weeks later they are still simply dodging questions on this misuse of taxpayers’ dollars,” said Hardeman.
Hardeman first raised questions about the trip in the Ontario legislature on October 5 after receiving the invoice and Dean’s expense form through a Freedom of Information request.
Housing Services Corporation makes money by marking up the cost of natural gas and insurance to social housing providers, who are required to by provincial legislation to buy these services through Housing Services Corporation.
“The Premier should be outraged that someone used social housing dollars to pay for a South African vacation when she was Minister, but she doesn’t seem to have taken any action to address it,” said Hardeman.