Let’s hope 2019 has a lot less of 2018 in it

Mail-in ballots should go the way of the dodo bird

It’s that time of year again to propose a few New Year’s resolutions for B.C.’s political class, and this year there’s a bit of a theme to the resolutions: transparency — no ill can come from it and it will fit into most holiday budgets to boot.

First up: allow individuals who are the subject of an inquiry, or investigation, to have the right to waive their right to privacy and thereby free government from any constraints it may feel over discussing a matter of public import.

These next two – with a nod to Dragnet’s Sgt. Joe Friday – could be considered as the “all we want are the facts” resolutions.

If you’re the minister responsible for a publicly-owned utility, say B.C. Hydro, and one of its senior executives tells you it’s sunny outside, you’d be well-advised to find a window and check for yourself.

Case in point: in a recent financial report the utility “notes that 493 (capital projects) have been delivered over the past five years at a cost of $6.9 billion – roughly 0.4 per cent over budget overall,” which sounds impressive, until you ask for the list, and ask again, and again and again.

Excluding its information technology fiasco (known as SAP), B.C. Hydro completed 15 capital projects over the last five years, at a total cost of $4.9 billion or $435 million over the first estimate, before that first estimate became a revised first estimate.

In order to meet its boast, Hydro would have needed to bring in the other 478 projects under budget by roughly 20 per cent.

Don’t expect to see a list from them any time soon.

This next one is well-illustrated in a recent article by Richard McCandless from B.C. Policy Perspectives.

McCandless notes that the Saskatchewan Auto Fund has released its second quarter results. It’s a 30-page report.

He contrasted that with the Insurance Corporation of B.C.’s second quarter “notional report,” which was one page.

Thinking out loud here, but I wonder whether ICBC would have become the dumpster fire it has if politicians and the public had been given all the facts as the fire progressed through the wallets of B.C. drivers?

Likely a bad time to point out that the Saskatchewan Auto Fund is profitable and hasn’t asked for a rate increase in four years — Manitoba and Quebec’s public auto insurers are profitable too.

Speaking of auto insurance – just because your cousin Al in Ontario pays less for insurance than you do isn’t enough evidence to dismiss every inter-provincial study ever done on auto insurance rates.

Since benches are likely a local government responsibility across B.C., it’s a good time to let freshly-minted councils know that benches are for sitting, but benchmarks are for measuring performance.

So which city will resolve to be the first in the province to join the Canadian Municipal Benchmarking Network?

Founded in the last century (1998), as the the Ontario Municipal CAO’s Benchmarking Initiative, MBN Canada bills itself as “a partnership between Canadian municipalities who believe in the power of data to inspire accountability, transparency and continuous improvement in the delivery of services to their communities.” That can’t be a bad thing.

The organization publishes an annual performance measurement report comparing the performance of participating municipalities across 37 service areas – from accounts payable to drinking water – “to foster and support a culture of service excellence in municipal government by creating new ways to measure, share and compare performance data and operational practices.”

Don’t crash their website signing up.

This next one is dedicated to the minister responsible for B.C.’s freedom of information, Minister of Citizens’ Services Jinny Sims, and all her predecessors in the job — if you did it in government don’t criticize it in opposition and if you criticized it in opposition don’t do it in government.

It’s called a duty to document for a reason, not documents optional.

This resolution should be common sense by now, at least I hope.

Mail-in ballots should go the way of the dodo bird for anything more important than a new dog park (no offence to dogs intended).

Finally, Happy New Year and here’s hoping 2019 has a lot less of 2018 in it.

Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca

Just Posted

Board of Education hires independent consultant to review SD82 reassignments

Review will not change recent decisions but will gather input, says board chair

Prince Rupert marine business adds second catamaran to its fleet

100-passenger Aurora was launched this year for the Rio Tinto Kemano tunnel project

Terrace-area gold project shows strong promise

Juggernaut Exploration hopes this year’s drilling will follow last year’s exceptional program

New protocol will better assist victims of sexual assault

Victims of sexual assault are set to benefit from the completion of… Continue reading

School district remains firm on reassignments

Community calling for halt of decision

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Family frustrated Terrace dad with advanced cancer must wait weeks for treatment

‘We can see his health declining every day,’ daughter says

Most Read