Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross continues calls for answers on BC Housing spending

Housing affordability made for the major focus for Monday's return to the Legislature and as part of the Monday morning discussion to the theme, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross spoke towards the need for more information on how BC Housing is spending the government's money on housing themes.

His opening portion of his time focused on the proposed level of builds of new housing that the NDP had promised, something he believes is now out of reach, noting of some research on the themes from Vancouver Sun columnist Vaunghn Palmer.

The main theme for the overview for the Skeena BC United MLA was the need for a release of some of the information from Forensic Audit that had been requested by then former Housing Minister David Eby, now the Premier.

I think the other thing that all 87 MLAs can agree on in this House as well is that the promise of 114,000 units being built in B.C. is now off the table. We're not going to achieve that. Now it's an issue of policy. Given the time I've got to speak on this.

When we're talking about this, there are a lot of factors that go into housing affordability. There are a lot of factors that go into affordability in general in B.C., whether you're talking about seniors or young people trying to buy their first house. 

But really, the central organization, in terms of making housing affordable, is B.C. Housing. That's got to be the centrepiece in any government's ambitions in relation to housing in B.C. With the $2 billion budget of taxpayers' dollars.

Just before the Premier stepped down as Housing Minister, he ordered a forensic audit of B.C. Housing to undertake a risk-based analysis of cash outflows to selected housing providers with a view to considering potential fraud risks. 

This is huge — $2 billion of taxpayers' dollars. We expect that this audit will be released at some point. We don't know when. But we also expect that audit to be redacted. 

But for those watching at home, even the terms of reference for this audit was redacted. 

And just for everybody's knowledge base here, including my own — because I went through a couple of forensic audits in my previous job, as well — a forensic audit actually uncovers allegations of fraud, embezzlement and analyzes financial data for use in the courts. 

We need to answer this, not just in relation to housing affordability. 

This actually speaks to transparency and accountability from the government. This is what this Legislature is for. This is what the MLAs are doing here in respect of their ridings. 

This is what the opposition is for. This is what this whole Westminster model is set up to do: to hold government accountable. 

And I think that in this case here, given all the different speeches about affordability, we can't ignore the fact that we haven't seen this audit yet coming from this NDP government.

The full review of the Housing themes from the MLA can be reviewed from the BC Legislature video stream starting at the 11:50 AM minute mark.

More notes from he Legislature can be reviewed here.

Our archive of housing themes for the Northwest can be explored here.  

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