Premier David Eby promised his government would release the findings of a potentially damaging forensic audit into BC Housing as soon as possible without giving a date.
“My commitment to this House was that we would release as much of the report as the law allowed us to do,” Eby said during Question Period Monday (March 27). “We’re working on that, and we’ll do it as soon as possible. I’ll keep that commitment.”
Eby made that comment during the first QP in the provincial legislature after a two-week break. The BC Liberals led by Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar demanded its immediate unredacted release.
“Frankly, that’s just not good enough,” Milobar said in response to Eby’s initial answer. “The government has been sitting on this report for the last couple of weeks without taking actions on it.”
Milobar was referring to comments from Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon made Sunday while announcing housing for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
“Government received the report a couple of weeks ago,” Kahlon said. “I only received my copy Monday (March 20). I was away the week prior with my family…I read the report. The information bulletin went on Friday and I can say after reading the report, it is my belief that it is in the public’s interest to be released with as little redaction as possible. “
He added that lawyers have told government to follow the process under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“At this stage, it depends on how that process goes,” he said.
B.C. Housing is the Crown corporation responsible for developing, managing and administering subsidized housing. Eby, then minister responsible for housing, ordered the forensic audit last July after an Ernst and Young assessment of its finances and operations.
The public first heard of this in late November 2022, shortly after Eby became premier, but months after he had fired the BC Housing board shortly after receiving the EY report.
BC Liberals used this timeline to argue it reveals what BC Liberal Karin Kirkpatrick, MLA West Vancouver-Capilano called a “pattern of evasiveness” around BC Housing.
“The Premier has the ability to release the full report in the public interest,” Milobar said. “But his refusal to do so only raises more questions of what this government is trying to hide.”
Eby responded by saying that Milobar knows of these reports because they have been released publicly.
“I’ve committed to this place that we will release as much of it as the law allows,” Eby said. We’re working on that. We’ll do it as quickly as possible. It’s a serious matter. I agree with the member that the public deserves to know.”
The initial report by EY found problems within several areas, including oversight over spending decisions and risk management.
“Roles and responsibilities are unclear – both with the government shareholder as well as within BC Housing,” it reads. “Recommendations have been made to strengthen governance and oversight and create greater alignment between BC Housing and its shareholder.”
BC Housing had a budget of nearly $2 billion and delivers between 80 and 85 per cent of its services through non-profit housing providers.
“(Current) oversight processes for these providers are manual in nature with limited ability to objectively assess provider performance (financial and non-financial) and manage overall risk,” it reads.