A long-awaited forensic audit of BC Housing is in the hands of the minister responsible, but it won’t be available to the public right away, prompting demands for its immediate release from the political opposition.
Premier David Eby, then minister responsible for housing, ordered a forensic audit of the Crown corporation responsible for developing, managing and administering subsidized housing 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.
The Ministry of Housing announced Friday (March 24) that it will review the forensic audit and “take the appropriate steps to release as much information to the public as the law permits” without saying when.
Karin Kirkpatrick, BC Liberal Shadow Minister for Housing, and Peter Milobar, BC Liberal Shadow Minister for Finance quickly responded with a statement calling on Eby and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon to release the “unredacted report” to the public now.
“Now, today’s statement from the NDP has given no firm timelines or dates for making the report public and is already hinting at withholding vital information,” they added.
The ministry said the Freedom of Information Act governs the release, adding that it includes a requirement that a public body must give sufficient notice to third parties beforehand.
But Kirkpatrick and Milobar do not buy this. They said government can release as much of the report as it wishes.
“(Any) attempts to claim that full disclosure is prevented by law is simply more NDP obfuscation,” they said, adding that the public has a right to know in the face of the housing affordability and homelessness crisis.
“It’s time for David Eby and the NDP to finally be honest with people.”
The initial report by EY found problems within several areas of BC Housing, 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.
BC Liberals have been highlighted these findings in having called for independent audits of two social housing providers after leaked reports had indicated mismanagement. They will likely to do so again once the provincial legislature returns from a two-week session break Monday.