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Libs core review to look at 'alternative service delivery'

Every hospital, university, crown corporation and government ministry will be under scrutiny in the provincial core review planned for this fall.

Energy and mines minister Bill Bennett announced today the terms of reference for the review, which aims to reduce spending by $100 million over the next two years.

"We intend to leave no stone unturned. We know government has already done a good job of managing costs, but we also know more can always be done. This review is about putting the taxpayer and families at the forefront of our decision-making process," stated Bennett in a press release.

According to a ministry backgrounder, among the objectives of the review are:

- to focus ministry programs and activities on "achieving government's vision of a strong economy";

- to eliminate overlap and duplication between ministries;

- to reduce red tap and unnecessary regulations that hinder economic development;

- to ensure public sector management wage levels are appropriate.

The review will also "confirm government's core responsibilities and eliminate programs that could provide better service at less cost through alternative service delivery models" a move which in the 2001 Liberal government core review meant privatization.

Resulting budget cuts of that review also eliminated thousands of jobs on a day civil servants called Black Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Bennett told The Times Colonist that with this core review, "you're not going to see anything like a Black Tuesday or anything like that." However, he also said, "I hope we're able to find ways of spending less money without people losing their jobs. That's definitely what I'm hoping. But I can't guarantee that's going to be the case."

In an op-ed in the Vancouver Sun today, NDP MLA Shane Simpson said that, while "the idea of a core review is not in itself a bad thing. . . we don't know whether this is to be a comprehensive review that will have real value, or if it will mean widespread service cuts to ministries already struggling to meet unsustainable budgets due to the Liberals' unrealistic bogus budget being re-introduced this week."

A working group on the core review is expected to have recommendations ready for cabinet approval by December 31, 2014.

Colleen Kimmett is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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