BC Housing is a crown corporation and reports to the minister of housing. Until recently, the minister was Premier David Eby.
BC Housing is in charge of billions of B.C. residents’ hard-earned tax dollars, given to it by government. Its sole purpose is to deliver on the government’s promised 114,000 units of housing, which it has failed at.
BC Housing should be held to a high standard of governance and accountability. But that hasn’t happened. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.
For those who regularly read my columns, that may not be a surprise.
By now, many of you are aware of the inappropriate conflict of interest between the former CEO of BC Housing and the CEO of one of its key housing providers Atira, leading to some $90 million of funding that didn’t meet the proper governance test. That’s bad enough, but it actually gets worse.
It is now alleged by former BC Housing board members, that the board tried to warn then housing minister Eby about the potential for corruption but they didn’t have the evidence needed to take action. They wanted to hire a subject-matter expert, trained in examining organizational conflicts of interest.
This was because an audit by (accounting firm) Ernst and Young raised concerns about the dealings of BC Housing, and how it awarded contracts, but didn’t properly collect evidence of their allegations.
Instead of listening to the board, Eby fired them all, accused them of not doing their jobs, and “buried” the first Ernst and Young report by releasing it just before a long weekend.
But there is even more scandal. This Ernst and Young report came after an initial report from BDO that was also “buried” by the minister of housing.
The knowledge of this first report only came to light because of a leak to the media and when the Opposition questioned the premier about its existence, he denied it. Once it became clear the leak to the media was accurate, he reluctantly admitted the report’s existence.
So why did Eby fire the board members and accuse them of ignoring corruption within the operations of BC Housing?
It’s obvious now he was trying cover up so he wouldn’t have to pay a price politically just before he began his leadership campaign to become premier. BC Housing having a fiscal corruption meltdown on Eby’s watch would have led to uncomfortable questions and headlines. So, he threw the board under the bus and kicked the can down the road, past his leadership campaign.
Our now premier put his political ambitions before what was right. This sets a concerning precedent. What else is he prepared to “bury” to protect his political career?
The BC United caucus and its leader, Kevin Falcon, will not stop asking uncomfortable questions, raising the voices of British Columbians and advocating for proper governance in all aspects of BC Housing.
If BC Housing isn't working well, British Columbians suffer the consequences.
My question this week:
Do you believe this government’s housing plan will address our province’s housing crisis?
I love hearing from you. Email me at [email protected] or call the office at 250-712-3620.
Renee Merrifield is the BC United MLA for Kelowna-Mission.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.