BC Liberals Paid $19 Million to Job Placement Firms for No Work, Says Brar
VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberals paid $19 million to certain job placement firms to end their contracts early, then immediately awarded new contracts to the same companies, said Jagrup Brar, NDP critic for the Ministry of Employment and Income Assistance (MEIA).
“Earlier, we learned that the B.C. Liberals mismanaged Job Placement contracts by paying these firms even when the income assistance clients died or were kicked off income assistance due to the government’s time limit policy,” said Brar.
“Now we know they also negotiated multimillion dollar payouts with the same firms for no work.”
“In effect, the B.C. Liberals paid $19 million from the income assistance budget for no apparent value,” Brar said.
Documents obtained by the NDP show the money was paid as ‘early termination’ payments, ostensibly to compensate the contractors for lost opportunities when their MEIA Job Placement contracts were ended early. However, no opportunities were lost as new contracts were quickly handed to the same companies.
Close to 91 per cent of the value of these job placement contracts went to two firms: West Coast Group and GTI Hiring.
“The Liberal government extended and altered the contracts several times, and negotiated huge payouts behind closed doors.” said Brar. “In the process, they left B.C.’s taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars.”
Brar said Claude Richmond, the B.C. Liberal Minister of Employment and Income Assistance, has not been upfront with the public about the handling of the program.
“First, the B.C. Liberals waited until the NDP revealed a secret audit informing taxpayers of millions lost due to overpayments made to these firms,” said Brar. “And then they failed to mention why $19 million from the Ministry budget was spent for no apparent services to clients.”
“There are a lot of unanswered questions that the Minister must account for,” said Brar. “The only certainty is that the BC Liberals have been very loose in handling contractual arrangements involving public funds.”
“This is especially distressing because the money in that budget is meant for the most vulnerable in our society.”