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Posted: September 18, 2020

Auditor general report on COVID-19 released

Michael Pickup, the new auditor general of British Columbia, has released his first report since taking office, Summary of COVID-19 Pandemic Funding Allocations and Other Financial Relief Measures.

This information report is a summary of funds announced by the government as part of its response to the pandemic. It includes funding allocations under the $5-billion Pandemic Contingencies allocation, B.C.’s $1-billion contribution toward a federal cost-sharing agreement and other significant financial relief measures.

The information in the report, which was compiled from various government sources, provides a snapshot of known financial information as of Aug. 18.

“This is timely information that legislators and the public can use to get a broad understanding of the financial aspects of the government’s response to the pandemic,” Pickup said. “It’s important to note, however, that the information in the report was not audited by my office.”

The report highlights include a detailed summary of the $5-billion Pandemic Contingencies allocation:

* $3.5 billion has been reserved for individuals and households, critical services and business and industry.

Of this money, the office was able to identify allocations totalling around $2.6 billion. That is approximately:

* $1.9 billion for individuals and household;

* $642 million for critical services; and

* $100 million for business and industry.

There is also approximately $0.88 billion that has not yet been identified.

The remaining $1.5 billion has been set aside for economic recovery, but this money has not yet been allocated.

The province also approved a $1-billion allocation to participate in a cost-sharing agreement with the federal government as part of the Safe Restart Agreement. That money, as well as $1 billion from the federal government, will go toward supporting recovery needs of transit services and local governments.

Additional financial relief and deferrals:

In addition to the $5-billion and $1-billion funding allocations, the government has announced other financial relief measures.

“My office has identified approximately $1.6 billion in other financial relief measures, as well as $6 billion in deferrals,” Pickup said.

Those measures include:

* $914 million in revenue reductions;

* $500 million for the one-time B.C. climate action tax credit;

* $203 million in funding presumed to be from ministry base-budget allocations; and

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

“Given the emergent nature of the pandemic, the way that government allocates money will continue to shift,” Pickup said. “From here, my office is carefully considering options for future work. We may choose to audit certain aspects of the government’s pandemic preparedness, response and recovery.”


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