Light shed on AGLG firing

The release of a spring survey confirms the problems that led to the firing of B.C.’s first Auditor General for Local Government

The release of a spring survey of B.C. municipalities confirms the problems that led to the firing of B.C.’s first Auditor General for Local Government in March.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities surveyed the 17 local governments that had participated in former AGLG Basia Ruta’s reviews by March. All but one responded that AGLG staff and auditors lacked understanding of how local government operates in B.C.

One community with RCMP service said the AGLG was “not quite sure how to assess our situation” because the municipality had little discretion over the terms of its policing contract.

The survey also found that high turnover in Ruta’s office hampered its performance audits. That was one of the factors that led to Ruta being fired, after she refused to cooperate with a review of her office’s functions.

Former B.C. auditor general Arn van Iersel was appointed acting AGLG in April and is working with the UBCM on its recommendations, including training of audit staff.

Hired to execute an idea proposed by Premier Christy Clark in her 2012 bid for the B.C. Liberal Party leadership, Ruta set herself a target of 18 audits in the first year. Clashes with staff at her Surrey office and her supervising board began to emerge, and only one audit was completed in that time.

Private jobs fall, self-employment up

The unemployment rate in B.C. held steady at six per cent in July, with a reduction in private-sector jobs offset by increased public sector employment and self-employment.

BC Stats reported that private sector employment fell by 4,500 jobs from June, while private sector jobs grew by 1,800 and the number of self-employed rose by 2,100. Compared to July 2014, self-employment was up by 9,800 while private sector employment was down 8,300.

B.C.’s unemployment rate tied with Alberta for third lowest in the country in July. Saskatchewan was lowest with 5.2 per cent and Manitoba second lowest at 5.8 per cent, compared with a national rate of 6.8 per cent.

B.C.’s commodity exports increased 9.1 per cent in June, with increases in forestry products, farm and fishing products and energy. Exports were up 12.8 per cent to the U.S. and 5.1 per cent to the rest of the world.