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MLA busy with Core Review

Bennett challenges fellow ministers to take a “bold approach” when taking a fresh look at how government operates

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett has been busy this summer working on the B.C. government's Core Review.

Bennett, who is the Minister Responsible for the Core Review, as well as the Minister of Energy and Mines, sent a letter to each government minister on Tuesday with instructions on the next step of the Core Review.

"The focus at this stage of the process is that we want them to come in and talk to the committee about the ministry's mandate and the mandate of all of their Crowns," said Bennett, pointing out that there are about 90 Crown agencies in the B.C. government.

“We will start to get a sense of whether they are living up to the expectations and goals in their mandate. We will also in some cases get a sense of whether they think the mandate is still relevant and is the most important thing for that ministry or Crown agency to be doing.”

Bennett has been tasked with finding $50 million in savings within government through the Core Review, but he says the process is more about creating more efficient ministries and Crown agencies.

“As important as finding the $50 million is – because I’m obligated to do that – it is of lesser importance than finding ways to do things smarter,” said Bennett.

“It seems like everyone, not just the media but even the public, thinks this is all a dollars and cents process, and it isn’t. That’s not what Premier Clark intended this to be. Yes, I’m looking for less money. Yes, I’m looking for ways for ministries and Crowns to spend less money,” he said. “It’s not just a cost-cutting exercise. That’s actually of lesser importance than finding ways to do things smarter.

“What we are doing here is we are saying, okay, stop. Everybody just stop for a moment and take a look at what you’re doing.

“I think when we just take a pause and take a look at things, we are going to find lots of things to improve.”

Still, he needs to find that $50 million in savings before the end of 2013.

“So we are looking for some low hanging fruit right now. I’m not going to go into any detail but we have our eye on a few things that will enable us to find those savings,” said Bennett.

As Minister of Energy and Mines, Bennett will have to examine his own ministry and Crown agencies – including BC Hydro and the B.C. Utilities Commission – and alongside his fellow cabinet ministers make a report to his own Core Review committee.

“There are lots of things to review in my ministry, just like there is in every ministry. And I can’t take it easy on myself because my colleagues won’t allow that.”

The Core Review will include targeted industry and stakeholder consultations. The committee’s recommendations will be made before the end of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, and the process will wrap up before the end of 2014.