Liberals steer public toward a dead end for input on core review

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VICTORIA – The only avenue the Liberals have offered to the public for input on the core review is a dead end, say the New Democrats.

“This review could impact the quality of service delivery or even cut important programs the public depends on,” said New Democrat core review critic Shane Simpson. “But the one opportunity the Liberals have promoted for the public to have their say turns out to be a dead end.”

A note attached to a Liberal government press release sent in September said, “The public will have an opportunity to provide input to core review as part of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ 2014 budget consultations being undertaken in September and October 2013.”

But on Tuesday when a presenter in Trail said they were under the impression the committee’s mandate had recently been expanded to take input on the core review, Committee Chair – and Parliamentary Secretary for the Core Review – Dan Ashton said, “I just want to correct you on that… there is still some discussion that’s taking place on how that will be presented as the core service starts rolling ahead.”

New Democrat MLA Mable Elmore, who sits on the finance committee, said the committee has not been told that taking input on the Liberal government’s core review is within the terms of reference for the 2014 budget consultation process. Elmore consulted the legislative clerk’s office on the matter, and they confirmed the committee was neither consulted nor advised to accept public presentations on behalf of the core review.

“The committee has heard several presenters attempt to give input on the core review. Some presenters have said it’s their primary concern,” said Elmore. “Clearly there is an appetite from the public and stakeholders across the province to have input into the core review.

“It turns out the one opportunity the public thought they might have to provide input isn’t an opportunity at all.”

Simpson said the Liberals have bungled the implementation of many things, and this core review is quickly shaping up to be headed for the same brick wall.

“The government has an obligation to provide a meaningful avenue for the public to provide input on the core review of programs and services they rely on,” said Simpson. “Right now they’re just giving people the runaround.”