Canuck Auditor General criticizes monitoring practices

The Canadian government’s Auditor General has slammed film and TV funder Telefilm Canada and the Canadian Television Fund for not adequately monitoring the way they spend their cash.

In a blisteringly critical report released last week, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said Telefilm didn’t always maintain proper records justifying its funding decisions and did not systematically check the Canadian-content requirements of the projects it finances.

Fraser criticized the Canadian Television Fund for its complex management structure and the potential conflict-of-interest problems on its board, given that many of the board members are from the TV industry and could benefit from CTF coin.

The CTF doles out C$275 million ($233 million) annually to Canuck TV producers. Telefilm Canada hands out about $170 million each year to Canadian film and TV producers.

The report also complained that the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, which is responsible for administering the government’s film tax credit program, never asks producers to submit documentation proving the creative personnel on their projects really do have Canadian citizenship.

Fraser’s report noted some of Telefilm’s files were disorganized and said Telefilm did not systematically verify the Canadian citizenship of key creative personnel on the projects it funded. Telefilm said it had assumed this job was being handled by the Canadian Audio-Visual Certification Office, which was not the case.

Telefilm executive director Wayne Clarkson did not dispute any of Fraser’s conclusions. He instead said the Montreal-based agency was working to correct the problems.

“I am pleased to say that in all cases the Dept. of Canadian Heritage and Telefilm have already taken steps to implement the necessary solutions,” Clarkson said. “We are committed to performance measurement, effective management approaches and standardization of business policies and procedures.”

The critical report on Telefilm comes as the federal funder continues to face widespread criticism for its clumsy handling of the financing of Montreal’s warring film festivals. Telefilm pulled its coin from Serge Losique’s Montreal World Film Festival to create the New Montreal FilmFest, but the new fest’s inaugural edition this fall was a complete bust, and it is unclear if it will be back next year. Meanwhile, Losique’s event is still in business in spite of the loss of government funding.

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