City of Toronto operating a hotline in support of fraud policy|
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Financial accountability is a top priority for the City of Toronto and its
employees. As part of its ongoing initiative to ensure ethical practices and
sound financial management, the City is taking further steps to enhance
awareness regarding the prevention and detection of fraud.
A new initiative launched March 1 is the City's anonymous fraud/waste hotline,
set up to facilitate the reporting of suspected fraud or the wasteful use of
municipal resources or property by anyone inside or outside the organization.
City employees and the general public can call the hotline number --
416-392-3712 -- to report any known or suspected wrongdoing. All calls are
confidential and whistleblower protection is provided to City employees who
report suspected wrongdoing. The City, however, will take disciplinary action
against anyone who makes a malicious, unwarranted complaint alleging fraud.
City Auditor Jeff Griffiths says, "The hotline is a six-month pilot project
that could be a useful tool in helping to address the need for the highest
standards of accountability and integrity. We plan to assess the response to
and the effectiveness of the hotline, then report to the Audit Committee with a
recommendation on whether the hotline should become a permanent program."
Griffiths says similar hotlines are used successfully by several American
cities, but Toronto's general fraud hotline is a first for Canadian cities.
"The program is a response to the high priority placed on accountability and
efficiency in the use of public funds at the local level rather than an
indication that fraudulent activity is widespread in local government."
"Municipal staff in general possess high ethical values and want to be members
of an organization with a well-earned reputation for honesty and integrity,"
says Griffiths. "If there are instances of fraudulent activity, such as theft
or deception for personal gain, we need to know about them so the City can take
appropriate action and correct any wrongdoing."
Chief Administrative Officer Shirley Hoy shares the City Auditor's perspective:
"Having worked with employees in all parts of this large organization, I have
full confidence in their commitment to the organization and their support for
sound financial management. Promoting the City's anti-fraud efforts is a good
way to supplement our other procedures, policies and systems for effective
management of the organization's resources."
City staff have always had the option of reporting any observed or suspected
fraudulent activity to their supervisor or manager, or directly to senior
management or the City Auditor. The new hotline presents an alternative channel
for reporting such information. Written notification is also an option
(address: City Auditor, Metro Hall, 9th floor, Toronto M5V 3C6).
If allegations of fraud are substantiated through investigation, disciplinary
action will be taken by the City and the police will be contacted. Toronto's
fraud policy is available on the Audit Services Web site at www.city.toronto.on.ca/audit.