HEALTH Minister Adrian Dix on Friday in a statement regarding concerns raised about decisions and spending at the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) said: “On Monday, November 30, 2020, specific concerns about decisions and spending at the PHSA were raised through the media. In response to the concerns, I directed the deputy minister of health to assess the PHSA’s decisions and conduct relating to specific concerns, and to provide recommendations on actions, changes to policies or other such changes that could be taken.”
He said the concerns to be assessed were that:
* the PHSA undertook unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations to the 14th floor of PHSA headquarters at 1333 West Broadway, Vancouver;
* the PHSA made inappropriate human resource decisions relating to hiring, appointments, continuity planning, severance and salary continuance;
* the PHSA authorized excessive catering expenses for PHSA executives and staff from mid-March 2020 to mid-June 2020; and
* concerns relating to the procurement of problematic respirators and appropriateness of followup with the vendor.
Dix said that on Thursday, December 3, he received and accepted recommendations made by the deputy minister. These include:
* limitations on the PHSA’s authority to spend internal capital without the deputy minister’s approval;
* a review and refresh of policies relating to internal capital planning, to be completed by the Ministry of Health;
* limitations on the PHSA’s authority to make senior executive changes without the deputy minister’s approval;
* a review of business meeting expense policies for the PHSA and each regional health authority to ensure expense policies are reasonable from a taxpayer’s perspective; and
* the hiring of an independent third-party advisor to provide a report to the deputy minister of health that will fully clarify and review concerns about the appropriateness of the PHSA’s handling of a problematic purchase of personal protective equipment and other related concerns, to help restore public confidence in the PHSA and its leadership.
Dix said: “I have made it clear that it is critical that the public has confidence in the PHSA and the management of B.C.’s health system in general.”
BC Liberals’ reaction
BC Liberal Health Critic Renee Merrifield said that the NDP response in regards to accusations of misspending at the Provincial Health Services Authority raises more questions than answers.
He said: “Although Minister Dix has accepted a series of recommendations, B.C. taxpayers still don’t have answers if the allegations of wasteful spending are indeed true.
“There needs to be complete transparency and Minister Dix needs to be honest with British Columbians about what exactly has happened at the PHSA — we are talking about millions of dollars and as of now, there are still no answers.
“Instead, the minister has effectively removed control from the board and executive for spending while they continue to get paid significant salaries.
“Also unclear is whether the minister has made clear to all health authorities that such reckless spending is unacceptable. If itis happening here, then taxpayers deserve to know where else misspending is taking place.”