By Nicholas Simons
It doesn’t matter whether Premier Christy Clark wants to call them pay raises, bonuses, or holdbacks, it was wrong for the Liberals to tell the public they were getting rid of executive bonuses, when all along they planned to roll them into salaries.
New Democrats raised the potential that the bonuses would be rolled into salaries, but the minister was adamant they were getting rid of the bonuses. It's hard not to think we were all being misled. It’s obvious what the government wanted us to believe.
British Columbians deserve answers about what is happening at Community Living British Columbia. Last fall, we raised concerns about vulnerable people being forced from their homes because of budget cuts. In total, 64 homes were closed. Further concerns were raised when it was discovered that executives at CLBC were getting bonuses for cost cutting.
Once this was exposed, the Liberals promised to eliminate executive bonuses at CLBC. They also committed to expanding the mandate of the Representative for Children and Youth, giving her office the power to advocate for for 19- to 24-year-olds transitioning from the Ministry of Children and Family Development to CLBC.
Neither of those things happened.
The bonus program remained in place to the end of the fiscal year, with the bonuses set to be paid out next month. Going forward, executives will have what used to be their “incentive pay” rolled into their base salaries, guaranteeing them a raise regardless of their performance and despite the ongoing problems at the organization.
And despite the fact that more and more families are struggling as they attempt to work through the transition of services for their children, the Representative for Children and Youth still doesn’t have the authority to help them navigate the transition to CLBC.
These are just some of the most recent issues that underscore New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix’s call for a full, independent, external review of CLBC. Months after asking the government to undertake this review, little has been done, leaving CLBC's credibility in tatters, and developmentally disabled adults continuing to suffer.
It’s clear that the internal review was wholly inadequate. Families transitioning into CLBC are still seeing their children offered fewer supports and services, and are still facing long wait lists for essential care. The government still isn’t sure of the number waiting for service.
The Liberals have repeatedly shown they are not managing CLBC effectively are certainly not being open with the public about the decisions they are making. After misleading the public about executive bonuses at CLBC, the B.C. Liberals shouldn’t expect anyone to simply take their word they can fix the problems.
It’s time for a thorough external review to ensure the public interest is being protected. Only this kind of review has the potential to offer families hope that meaningful change will finally supplant the doublespeak, window dressing, and damage control that has marked the Liberals’ mismanagement of this organization.
Anything short of a full external review should be seen as Premier Clark and the Liberals putting their own political interests ahead of what is necessary for an organization that is responsible for supporting a vulnerable group in our community.
Nicolas Simons is the New Democrat critic for Community Living B.C. and the MLA for Powell River-Sunshine Coast.