Canadian public policy think-tank says Prince Edward Island capital needs to do better job of explaining what it spends and how it spends it
© Guardian photo by Gary MacDougall
Charlottetown city hall
The City of Charlottetown needs to do a much better job of explaining its finances to the public, says a Canadian public policy think-tank.
The Frontier Centre for Public Policy, which has offices in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, has released its seventh annual local government performance index.
That index ranks the top 100 Canadian cities on their financial transparency and performance over the 2012 financial year. Charlottetown finished in 95th place. It’s designed to shed light on how Canada’s largest municipalities are performing in comparison to others.
Halifax was the top Atlantic Canadian city, going from 50th in last year’s rankings to 14th this time.
“The big areas where (Charlottetown) missed out are on the amount of detail and the explanations that are provided (on finances),’’ said Peter McCaffrey, a policy analyst with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
“There’s no problem with the actual accounting side. We don’t find any problems with the numbers. It’s the clarity of the explanation and the details provided that help with the context of those numbers.’’
The Frontier centre essentially wants to find out how hard it is for a journalist, research or even a member of the public to get detailed information on what the municipality is spending its money on or where the money is coming from.
“Nice, detailed breakdowns or what spending goes where and why or does (the municipality) clump (spending) into hard categories that make it hard to actually find out where the money has gone?
“We’re also looking for how much detailed explanation there is of those numbers. Is there a description of what the category refers to, how it’s changed since previous years and why?’’
Frontier also looks at the timing of the financial reporting.
“You can have the best report in the country but if you don’t get it out to the public for a year and a half after the end of the financial year it’s not of any use to anyone.’’
As far as other municipalities in Atlantic Canada, Moncton finished 47th, Saint John was tied with Charlottetown at 95th while Cape Breton was 97th and St. John’s 98th.
No one from the City of Charlottetown wanted to comment on this story.
For more information, go to www.lgpi.ca to see the full report.