The provincial government isn’t saying how much its pandemic response review could cost taxpayers or even how much they plan to spend on it.
Last week, the B.C. government announced the launch of an independent review and public consultation of its operational response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to understand how well provincial agencies worked together.
The review’s terms of reference, titled COVID-19 Lessons Learned, state that the exercise will 0nly focus on the government’s operational response related to communication, preparedness, and engagement. It also makes it clear that the review will not cover decisions made by Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, or public policy decisions made by the B.C. government.
“The scope of the review excludes an assessment of economic recovery and public policy decisions made by government to deal with the consequences of the pandemic and decisions made by the independent provincial health officer,” the terms read.
What isn’t clear, however, is how much the review will cost taxpayers. Estimated costs were not disclosed by the province and the terms of reference made no mention of costs either.
In a series of statements to CHEK News, a spokesperson for the province’s public safety ministry said the government is still figuring out the final costs, which won’t be disclosed until sometime in the future.
“Final costs for the review are still being determined. As mentioned, full costs will be reported at a later date,” the spokesperson said.
Asked whether there was a specific or estimated amount budgeted for the review, a different spokesperson did not answer the question specifically but said the review will be paid for using money from Emergency Management BC’s budget.
The Horgan government has allocated $400 million for Emergency Management BC this fiscal year.
Former B.C. Public Service senior leaders — Bob de Faye, Dan Perrin and Chris Trumpy — have been appointed by Mike Farnworth, the province’s public safety minister and solicitor general, to conduct the review and prepare a final report that will be submitted to the government.
All three men have years of experience working in the province’s public service and as part of the review are expected to engage a handful of groups including health authorities, Indigenous representatives, social service providers, public sector unions, education providers, provincial Crown corporations, and local governments.
Once completed, the final report will contain a “comprehensive summary” of findings developed from best practices research, the internal operational assessments and public input, according to the terms of reference. However, it will not contain any recommendations.
“This review includes decision-making processes, which will help as we prepare to review other sectors involved in this response and do even better when the next emergency happens,” the province’s public safety ministry spokesperson told CHEK News in one of its statements.
The final report is expected to be submitted to the provincial government by the end of September.