No guarantees on Y2k, Ontario's auditor says (computer systems may still be at mercy of the Year 2000 bug) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


November 16, 1999

No guarantees on Y2K, Ontario auditor says

TORONTO (CP) -- With the end of 1999 just weeks away, some of Ontario's most critical computer systems may still be at the mercy of the Year 2000 computer bug, the provincial auditor warned Tuesday. Fifty-six of the Ontario government's most vital systems were not being debugged quickly enough in March, when the auditor's office did its most recent review, Erik Peters said in his annual report. As well, at least 21 hospitals have warned that their computers and medical equipment will not be ready by the end of the year. "The government still needs to significantly accelerate its Year 2000 compliance effort in a number of key areas," the report said. Peters told a news conference Tuesday that since the time of the audit, ministries have reported progress in either updating their systems or implementing backup plans in the event of a failure. But despite his role as auditor, Peters said he's unable to independently confirm that the government will be ready on Dec. 31. "As things have progressed, we are hearing more and more comforting things from the ministries ... although I must admit we have not checked up on their validity," he said. The Y2K bug is a problem in computer systems and electronic equipment that store the calendar year as two digits, such as 99, rather than as 1999. As a result, such systems would mistake the year 2000 for 1900 and either fail to process data correctly or simply crash. About 30 per cent of hospitals failed to respond to a recent Y2K survey, said the report, and 21 of those that did said they don't expect to be ready in time. "I have no idea how hospitals are doing," Peters admitted. "I hope they do get it in under the wire." Seven "mission critical" systems -- those considered vital to the operation of the government's ministries and services -- weren't being fixed fast enough at the time of the audit. Examples include ambulance and police dispatch networks, social assistance distribution and tax collection, although the report does not specify which systems were most in need of work. Another 49 systems considered critical to government business or other internal operations -- such as liquor licence registration, food safety and water treatment -- were also behind in their Y2K work. As the provincial auditor, Peters is supposed to be the last line of defence against inefficiency or mismanagement in government. But Ontario's Audit Act forbids him from looking at anything other than financial records, forcing him to take the government at its word when it comes to the compliance of its computer systems. At the time of the review, only three ministries had made substantial progress toward completing required contingency plans in the event that their systems fail, Peters said. The government has managed to implement a number of sound practices based on last year's auditor's recommendations, including an incentive compensation program for Y2K staff members and making Y2K a top priority. But Peters noted the government isn't making any promises. "There remains a risk," the government says in public accounts documents released last month, "That all aspects of the Year 2000 issue ... will not be fully resolved."

-- Homer Beanfang (, November 16, 1999


the way cookie crumbles, humpty falls, back to ashes

-- mayday (mayday@new.year), November 16, 1999.

Well Johnny C this is your neck of the woods. What is Harris up to?

I know they are working on less government in Ontario but this is a bit much

-- Brian (, November 16, 1999.

Brian -

This is the only report I've read about the Auditor's Report. I'm going to try and find the full report online if I can.

One thing I noted is that that the Auditor is looking at data from March; lots can happen in 8 months. De Jager made a similar point about the federal Auditor General in the summer. He said that the A- G's figures were out of date and that a lot of work had been done from the time the data was sent to the A-G to the time he actually released his report.

I have a couple of acquaintances who work in the Ontario civil service and I'm not hearing much about Y2K problems on the grapevine. Similar story from a friend who works on the Dept of Justice system in Ottawa. Just a couple more data points for you, FWIW.

What's Harris up to? Well, you heard he dumped the wife and kids and is living single in Toronto? Rumours among media folk are that he is more interested in establishing a relationship with certain members of the electorate than he is with governing! I mean the guy hasn't blasted welfare moms in a couple of months. He's slipping, I tell ya... (/sarcasm off)

Regards from Hogtown

-- Johnny Canuck (, November 17, 1999.

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