Miller backs ferry audit


(The Bowen Island Undercurrent, February 27th 1998, p1: with permission)

A full independent audit will be conducted on the operations of the BC Ferry Corporation, Deputy Minister Dan Miller announced Thursday.

Miller, the minister responsible for B.C. Ferries, also promised to strengthen the stakeholder input, in response to the special mediator John Fryer.

In fact, the minister has promised to implement all the mediator's recommendations. Fryer was appointed to look into BC Ferries operations after a round of ferry rate increases last fall sparked public outrage.

Fryer called for a value-for-money independent audit of BC Ferries examining the efficiency of management and administration, efficiency of labour utilization, effectiveness of the service plan (frequency of sailings) and allocation of overhead costs.

Miller said he has instructed ministerial staff and BC Ferries management to act immediately on Fryer's recommendations.

Fryer also called for a continuation of the current stakeholder process, with new terms of reference and stakeholder groups established in all service regions.

He also called for a second tier stakeholder group with representatives from all the regional advisory committees. The second tier stakeholder group should be initiated with a meeting attended by the minister and BC Ferries management, with an invitation extended to the BC Ferry and Marine Workers Union, Fryer recommended.

Ferry users have been demanding a greater say in ferry operations after cabinet largely ignored stakeholder's input when announcing ferry rate increases last fall. Those increases sparked furious protests and led to Fryer's initial appointment. The province subsequently rolled back discount ticket prices and instituted a one-year freeze of shorter commuter rates following Fryer's interim recommendations in December.

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