Strategic Thoughts

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December 31, 2009

Year End 2009

In his year end interview with Premier Gordon Campbell, Global TV's Keith Baldrey captured Campbell saying that his "Golden Decade" doesn't end until 2015. Campbell explained that he didn't announce his Golden Decade until 2005, so he must stick around to see it to completion. Baldrey frequently points out that Campbell has no choice but to say that he is staying, since once he wavers the race to replace him is on; some would say the race is on and his wavering would just bring it into the open.

Campbell's "Five Great Goals for a Golden Decade" were introduced in the February 2005 Speech from the Throne; they marked a shift away from tying the government's strategic plan to the 2001 "New Era Vision".

In 2005 the Five Great Goals were defined in terms of 32 key performance measures; in the September 2009 revision of the government's strategic plan, there were only 15 key performance measures. The Campbell government has a habit of redefining performance measures when it isn't doing very well. Even with its reduced list of 15 key measures, the government's strategic plan reveals that the most recent measures are worse than the baselines (point picked for measuring progress) in three measures:

  • School readiness (% of kindergarten students entering school "ready to learn", baseline 72.1%, currently 70.4%, target 85%);
  • Student literacy - (program for International Student Assessment Ranking, Post-secondary completion , baseline 2nd in Canada and 3rd internationally, currently 3rd in Canada and 6th internationally, target 1st in Canada and improve internationally);
  • Number of new jobs per capita (baseline 1st in Canada in 2005, 3rd in Canada in 2008, target 1st in Canada - preliminary data indicate a big drop in BC's ranking for 2009).

One of three measures for the government's goal of building the best system of supports, is the percentage of seniors living in institutions. Having the lowest percentage in institutions (10.0% in 2006) isn't a good thing if those who need residential care are inappropriately in other housing. On December 17th, just days before the holidays, B.C.'s Ombudsperson Kim Carter released her report, The Best of Care: Getting it Right for Seniors in British Columbia, in which she said that actions in response to her recommendations by the Ministries of Health Services and Healthy Living and Sport "fall short of what is needed to remedy the problems her office identified". For example, there is not a single provincial website that contains comprehensive, comparable information about all individual residential care facilities, including direct care hours provided per resident per day, per diem health authority funding, personal care policies and how any complaints have been handled. In view of Carter's report, it is hard to accept the strategic plan's simplistic measure of support for seniors.

The fourth of Campbell's Five Great Goals for a Golden Decade is: "Lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality, and the best fisheries management, bar none." It is admirable to want to lead the world, but we should first try to at least keep up with the rest of Canada. Our wild salmon are threatened by fish farms at the mouths of rivers. Communities throughout BC regularly experience boil water alerts. Thanks to natural gas exploration, "British Columbia was the only province in the country to report an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from major industries in 2008."

A New Year's Resolution for the opposition, the media and political pundits should be to pay more attention to what the government claims are its performance measures. Have they chosen the right ones, and are they meeting them in a timely fashion?


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