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BC Ferries brought under FOI law, executive salaries capped

Salaries for future B.C. Ferries executives and directors will be capped and the publicly-owned company will be subject to provincial freedom of information laws under legislation introduced today.

The changes were in response to a comptroller general's report from November, 2009, Transportation Minister Shirley Bond said.

One of the goals is “ensuring compensation for future BC Ferries executive and board is comparable to public-sector organizations,” it said. The legislation will separate the board of B.C. Ferry Services Inc. from the board of the B.C. Ferry Authority. The two bodies currently have the same directors.

It will also bring B.C. Ferries reservation fees under the price caps regulated by the B.C. Ferry Commission.

“It is appropriate for us to provide more accountability through the use of freedom of information,” said Bond. “We agree with the Comptroller General and we're moving to make that happen.”

The salary cap won't affect current executives because it would be unfair to break the agreements they have in place, she said. She expects the FOI provisions will be in place as soon as the bill becomes law, she said.

“Ever since 2003 we've been calling for more accountability and it's taken this long,” said NDP ferries critic Gary Coons.

It is unclear whether the changes will do anything to rein in soaring fares, he said. “The single biggest issue is the skyrocketing fares on businesses and residents.”

Bond also introduced changes that will allow TransLink to produce “fully funded” plans three years ahead instead of ten.

The changes are part of Bill 20, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 3), 2010.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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