Finding ‘savings’ only side benefit of core review: minister

Jeremy Nuttall

By Jeremy Nuttall, 24 hours Vancouver

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett. (CARMINE MARINELLI/24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

British Columbia’s core review will not focus on finding money as much as it will centre on making government run more efficiently, according to Bill Bennett, the minister in charge of the review.

Speaking to media at Canada Place Wednesday, Bennett explained the review, due to wrap up in December 2014, will aim to make government programs run smoother.

Bennett said he is supposed to find $50 million out of the province’s $45-billion budget that could be used more efficiently.

“Our primary focus is not to cut expenditures, our primary focus is to find smarter, better ways to do things,” said Bennett, who repeated the phrase numerous times. “If we do uncover some savings as a result of that process, hopefully we can take that money and put it someplace else in government where it’s needed.”

He said the government will even consider rolling some privately contracted government services back into the public sector if deemed a better way to operate.

But Shane Simpson, BC NDP critic for the core review, said he’s concerned programs will not be made more efficient and money will just be cut from the budget.

“They said that they won’t impact programs for vulnerable citizens, that’s a big concern,” Simpson said. “They made that same commitment in the 2011 review, it lead to a 12% cut at the ministry of children and families.”

Simpson wants to see a list of programs for vulnerable citizens produced that Bennett will commit to not cutting.

Meanwhile, John Winter at the B.C. Chamber of Commerce said that whether or not extra money is found, the review needs to be conducted.

“I think the benefits of an exercise like this … is it points out to the people who work inside those ministries is the government is serious about managing its costs,” Winter said. “That’s probably part of the exercise here.”

 

 

 

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