B.C. auditor general outlines costs of government's pandemic response so far - InfoNews

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B.C. auditor general outlines costs of government's pandemic response so far

Nova Scotia Auditor General Michael Pickup appears before the public accounts committee at the legislature in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017. A new report from Pickup, now British Columbia's auditor general, shows the largest amount the provincial government allocated in its pandemic response was earmarked for individuals and households by mid-August.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
September 11, 2020 - 11:24 AM

VICTORIA - A new report from British Columbia's auditor general says the largest amount the provincial government had allocated by mid-August in its pandemic response was for individuals and households.

Michael Pickup's report says of the $2.6 billion his office has identified as being allocated by the government as of Aug. 18, $1.9 billion was targeted at individuals and households.

Another $642 million was for critical services, and $100 million was allocated for business and industry.

The government has announced a $5-billion COVID-19 response and a $1-billion contribution to a federal cost-sharing program.

About $3.5 billion was set aside for individuals and households, critical services, and business and industry, and the auditor general's office identified allocations totalling about $2.6 billion.

Finance Minister Carole James is also expected to announce next week how the province will spend a further $1.5 billion set aside for economic recovery.

Pickup says his report does not identify how much has been spent, but lists money that has been allocated for a specific purpose.

The auditor says his office also identified about $1.6 billion in other financial relief measures, as well as billions in deferrals by the province.

Those include:

— $914 million in revenue reductions.

— $500 million for a one-time tax credit under the province's climate change plan.

— $6 billion in deferrals, which includes the postponement of fees, taxes or bills for businesses and individuals.

Pickup says his office has not audited any of the relief programs, but it could do so in the future.

"Because of the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the economic decline caused by the pandemic, British Columbia's path to economic recovery is largely unknown," the report says.

"One driver of this uncertainty is what the impact of a second wave of COVID-19 will be and what measures will need to be taken to keep the people of British Columbia safe."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 11, 2020.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2020
The Canadian Press

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