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Ministry reviewing $500 million investment fund transparency

Fund should be subject to public scrutiny, commissioner says
Commissioner Michael McEvoy said the government has yet to decide whether InBC will be subject to FIPPA | File photo: Jeremy Hainsworth

B.C.’s Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation says it is reviewing the information and privacy commissioner’s recommendation that B.C.’s $500 million strategic investment fund be subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

Commissioner Michael McEvoy said placing InBC Investment Corp. (InBC) under FIPPA is a matter of transparency and accountability in managing public funds.

The provincial government said InBC, which was announced April 27, is charged with managing the $500 million in public funds aimed at investing in B.C.’s business and innovation sectors to help them compete in the post-pandemic economy.

But, said McEvoy, the government has yet to decide whether InBC will be subject to FIPPA. 

“Transparency and accountability will be at the foundation of this organization,” the ministry said in a statement to Glacier Media. “InBC will help position our province as a frontrunner in the post-pandemic economy as we work to build a stronger B.C. for everyone.”

The statement said InBC’s predecessor corporation, the BC Immigrant Investment Fund (BCIIF), was not subject to FIPPA.

“As such, when BCIIF was renamed and became InBC in September 2020, it was also not subject to the act,” the statement said.

However, the ministry said InBC‘s legislation requires annual reports on investment performance, reports that must be presented to the Legislative Assembly and made public. 

McEvoy, however, anticipated that response when he wrote to Minister Ravi Kahlon.

“Its annual reports are to be in a form and manner specified by the minister and external reviews will occur only every five years,” McEvoy said. “These accountability mechanisms fall far short of what is needed and lack the ongoing transparency afforded through the access to information regime.”

The statement said staff has been meeting with McEvoy and continue to work with him on the issue.

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