Victoria headquarters renovations supervised by Tom Christensen cost three times original estimates
Victoria (8 Nov. 2007) - The British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) says Tom Christensen, the provincial minister of family development, has been overseeing extravagant office renovations at ministry head offices while cutting funding for therapy and court support services for sexually abused children.
"I think any reasonable British Columbian would support funding services to abused children over office renovations," says BCGEU president George Heyman. "It is shameful that the Minister responsible does not appear to share this same sense of priority."
The Mary Manning Centre in Victoria announced the layoff of three counsellors earlier this year after the government refused to provide $170,000 to meet service needs. It was only after the Victoria community rallied and raised tens of thousands of dollars in donations that layoffs were averted.
Now, newly released documents show that the ministry has spent $560,000 renovating its fourth-floor headquarters in Victoria. The minister personally signed off on the project, which ran almost three times over the original budget.
In a related development, recently leaked documents also show the ministry may have censored a report critical of the government's inadequate support for sexually abused children before releasing it.
The documents show the ministry knew for at least 18 months that children who had been sexually abused were not getting the counselling and support they needed but failed to act. B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner has launched an investigation of the alleged censorship. NUPGE