Liberal health critic says NDP response to accusations of misspending don't go far enough

Merrifield demands answers

BC Liberal health critic Renee Merrifield says the provincial health minister "needs to be honest with British Columbians," following allegations of misspending by the Provincial Health Services Authority.

A CBC story Monday quoted whistleblowers inside the agency as saying millions of dollars earmarked to fight COVID-19 had been squandered on upscale meals, executive office renovations and the purchase of unusable face masks from China.

Health Minister Adrian Dix ordered a review into the allegations.

Friday, Dix announced the PHSA has been ordered to cease all planning and spending of internal capital unless approved directly by the Ministry of Health. It was also directed to make no further decisions regarding hiring or firing of members of the senior executive team.

In regards to other alleged matters, Dix says he is directing the deputy minister to co-ordinate a review of business meeting expense policies, and to hire an independent third-party advisor to report on the purchase of PPE.

In response Merrifield, the MLA for Kelowna-Mission, says the response raises more questions than answers.

“Although Minister Dix has accepted a series of recommendations, B.C. taxpayers still don’t have answers if the allegations of wasteful spending are indeed true," said Merrifield.

“There needs to be complete transparency and Minister Dix needs to be honest with British Columbians about what exactly has happened at the PHSA — we are talking about millions of dollars and as of now, there are still no answers.

“Instead, the minister has effectively removed control from the board and executive for spending while they continue to get paid significant salaries."

Merrifield says residents also need to know whether Dix made it clear to health authorities that reckless spending is unacceptable.

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