The low down

Earlier, we exclusively reported British Columbia's legal services society was expecting its revenue from Notary Foundation grants would be "negligible" thanks to "ultra-low interest rates." In fact, according to the society's updated service plan, that revenue for fiscal 2009/10 has collapsed to $0.2 million - $600,000 less than was forecasted in February. As a result of that, and other changes, its total anticipated revenue has dropped by almost $1 million - from $75.1 to $74.2 million. Although the government has authorized the society to increase its deficit to $4.2 from $2.9 million.

1 Comment

Sean, does the news that the government has authorized the Legal Services Society (LSS) to increase its deficit from $2.9 million to $4.2 million mean that LSS will cover its deficits from future surpluses or that the government will pick up the LSS shortfall?

The reason I ask is that, formerly, up until about 1996, the BC government used to cover LSS's deficits with additional government funding. This blank cheque approach encouraged LSS to get into the bad fiscal habit of habitually running deficits of millions of dollars annually. It was Attorney General Ujjal Dosanjh who, when asked to pick up an LSS deficit of about $13 million, finally put his foot down and ordered LSS to live within its means.

As is its custom, LSS then organized a "community coalition" (of which I was a reluctant member) to lobby the AG and his officials to allow LSS to continue on with its financially reckless ways. As always, any attempt to rein in LSS's money-gobbling was construed as an "attack on the poor". To his credit, however, the AG stuck to his guns and that was that.

So, if the answer is, yes, the government will bail LSS out of its deficits, then I fear the current government will find itself obliged to save LSS from its own inability to manage or refusal its finances. LSS has proven time and again that it cannot - or will not - refrain from spending more than the substantial amount of government funding it already receives.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.