The Office was established under Section 55 of The Treasury Department Act, 1878 Acts and Ordinances of the North-West Territories. This Act authorized the Lieutenant Governor in Council to appoint an officer known as the “Territorial Auditor”. The Territorial Auditor performed a complete examination of the public accounts of the North-West Territories and reported his findings and conclusions to the Legislative Assembly.
The Territorial Auditor was not independent of the Government. All managerial decisions of the Office were subject to the approval of the Treasurer.
In 1905, The Treasury Department Act was amended to provide for a “Provincial Auditor” whose appointment, powers, and duties were virtually identical to those of the Territorial Auditor with one exception. The Provincial Auditor was no longer required to prepare a uniform system of books of account for each Government department.
From 1905 to 1964, the legislation governing the Provincial Auditor received only one significant change. The Provincial Auditor’s responsibility for preparing the books of account for the Consolidated Fund was given to the Comptroller.
In 1965, a Special Committee on Public Accounts appointed by the Legislative Assembly, recommended amendments to the legislation governing the Provincial Auditor. These amendments transferred the responsibility for control over disbursements (pre-audit) to the Comptroller. The duties of the Provincial Auditor changed to those of an independent legislative auditor who audited the accounts of the Government on behalf of the Legislative Assembly after expenditures were made. The Provincial Auditor reported findings and conclusions to the Legislative Assembly.
In 1983, separate legislation was enacted for the Provincial Auditor known as The Provincial Auditor Act. This Act improved the independence of the Office through two significant changes. First, the Provincial Auditor began submitting reports directly to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for tabling. Formerly, the Minister of Finance tabled the annual report. Second, employees of the Provincial Auditor’s Office became employees of the Legislative Assembly. These changes better enabled the Provincial Auditor to manage the Office.
In 1987, the Government proposed amendments to The Provincial Auditor Act without obtaining advice from the Provincial Auditor. The amendments produced two significant changes. First, the amendments clarified that spending by Crown-controlled corporations was public money. Under The Provincial Auditor Act, 1983, spending by Crown-controlled corporations was not considered to be public money. The second major revision permitted the Provincial Auditor to rely on the report of an auditor appointed by the Government. If the Office was unable to rely on the report of an appointed auditor, the Provincial Auditor was required to state this publicly.
In 1987, the Government appointed private sector auditors to audit many Government organizations. The Provincial Auditor had to do much of its work through private sector auditors. This auditing system became particularly difficult and confrontational when the Office needed to examine or resolve complex issues directly. This auditing system also delayed reports to the Legislative Assembly.
In 1993, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts recommended to the Legislative Assembly “that the Government work co-operatively with the Provincial Auditor by involving him in the process of choosing appointed auditors, establishing audit plans, maintaining solid communications through frequent audit updates, and ensuring that the Provincial Auditor has sufficient time to comment on the final audit report prior to its public release.” The Legislative Assembly concurred with this recommendation.
In February 1994, with the support of the Standing Committees on Public Accounts and Crown Corporations, the Provincial Auditor and the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan (CIC) formed a task force to examine interactions between the Provincial Auditor, appointed auditors, the Assembly, and its Committees. The Report of the Task Force on Roles, Responsibilities and Duties of Auditors recommended how the audit system could work more efficiently and effectively when the Government appoints private auditors to audit CIC Crown corporations.
In December 1999, the Government stated in the Speech from the Throne that it would introduce changes to The Provincial Auditor Act to update this legislation.
In February 2000, the Provincial Auditor tabled a Special Report to the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan regarding changes to The Provincial Auditor Act. This report presented recommendations to improve the accountability of the Provincial Auditor to the Assembly, and to improve the accountability of the Government to the Assembly.
On June 28, 2001, Bill 14, An Act to Amend The Provincial Auditor Act, received Royal Assent. As stated in the Special Report Regarding Changes to The Provincial Auditor Act, Bill 14, the Office supported the Bill because it enhanced the Provincial Auditor’s independence and maintained the Government’s accountability to the Assembly. Also, the Bill resulted from a reasonable process that provided for adequate consultation among key legislators, the Minister of Finance, and the Office.
On May 14, 2015, Bill No. 181 The Officers of the Legislative Assembly Standardization Amendment Act, 2015 received Royal Assent. The Bill standardized various administrative and appointment provisions over legislative officers. It included the following key amendments to The Provincial Auditor Act:
The Provincial Auditor Act, consolidated with the amendments of Bill 181, can be found on our web site’s home page.