Make Senior’s Advocate Independent – NDP
Prince George, B.C. – Why isn’t BC.’s senior’s advocate independent of government?
That’s the question NDP Leader John Horgan asked following a senior’s forum his party held in Prince George Monday.
The senior’s advocate was first created by the Liberal government in March, 2013.
“We have five or six independent officers. The ombudsperson is independent, giving citizens an opportunity to go to someone that is not the government to get administrative fairness, get services delivered,” he said. “And when they appointed the senior’s advocate they made it a bureaucrat in the ministry.”
That’s not to say current Senior’s Advocate Isobel Mackenzie isn’t doing a great job though.
“Now this particular bureaucrat is an extraordinary one and she’s been given enough rope to put forward some provocative reports but none of them have been acted upon,” said Horgan.
“And our concern and the concern you heard in the room was she’s there at the whim of the government and she should be there holding the government accountable and that’s the effectiveness of having an independent officer.”
He promised his party would create an independent office via legislation “in the early portions of an NDP government.”
“And it would not be a radical departure from other officers that we have already doing good work on behalf of citizens like the children’s representative and the auditor general.”
Horgan added people “don’t event think twice now about the auditor general being independent.”
“They do spectacular work – they have an increasingly large staff but that’s because of the complexity and the volume of dollars that we spend in government every day.”
But wouldn’t installing an independent senior’s advocate be expensive?
“No. I think what we see from that is that level of independence that would at the end of the day lead to savings in government,” said Horgan.
“There’s an initial cost of setting up the office but there are savings over time because recommendations lead to better outcomes. The auditor general costs us a lot of money but the auditor general saves us more money than he or she costs.”