BCACG asks BC Auditor General to Investigate Coleman’s cuts to Charities

The BC Association For Charitable Gaming has formally asked the BC Auditor General to look into the BC government’s failure to live up to the 1999 Memorandum of Agreement which legally binds it to hand over 1/3 of all BC gaming revenues to BC’s charities and non-profits (including arts). The Agreement has never been honoured nor has it been extinguished by any subsequent legislation. It seems that there is a strong legal case against the government, and the Auditor General is being asked to rule on the matter. The mission of the office of the Auditor General is “To serve the people of British Columbia and their elected representatives by conducting independent audits and advising on how well government is managing its responsibilities and resources.”

As you may know, more than half of government investment in the arts came from these gaming funds until last year’s cuts, when the arts were excluded from all gaming revenue. This happened entirely at Minister Coleman’s discretion. In fact, the non-transparent and entirely discretionary nature of the use of billions of dollars in Gaming revenues should really be subject to an inquiry, above and beyond the $1.3 billion in arrears that appears to be owed to BC’s non-profit sector.

The media release:

Charities Seek Auditor-General Investigation into Government Use of Gaming Proceeds

Today the BC Association for Charitable Gaming asks the provincial Auditor General to investigate the provincial government’s administration and distribution of gaming proceeds transferred to it from the BC Lottery Corporation.

According to a revenue-sharing formula with municipalities and the charitable sector, 33.3% of net charitable gaming revenues are owed to charities.

The provincial government has failed to account for its receipts to the BCACG, and has failed to distribute to charities an amount in excess of $1 billion owing under its own agreements over the last 10 years.

We ask the Auditor General for an accounting of those funds and a determination of the status of the province’s outstanding liability to BC charities.

The charitable sector has actively supported the BC Lottery Corporation’s numerous applications to expand gaming across the province, having been assured that this support would bring critically needed revenues to the charitable sector. Despite provincial gaming revenues doubling over the last ten years, none of the proceeds of expanded gaming have gone to the charitable sector, and proceeds from the provincial government are now millions of dollars below 1995 levels.

We ask for direction that the BCACG and the public are entitled to full, clear, and consistent reporting of BC Lottery Corporation revenues from all sources, the provincial government’s calculation of total gaming grants, and consultation respecting the distribution of grants across the province.

We seek a determination that BC charities’ share of gaming net revenues are held by the provincial government as a form of trust and, in accordance with trust principles, should not be commingled with tax revenues and treated as discretionary proceeds within in the provincial Consolidated Revenue Fund.

We seek a finding that proceeds to charities are not currently distributed in accordance with the independent, transparent, and accountable standard required of trust administration.

We ask the Auditor General further to investigate whether the provincial government has misused its authority as trustee of funds payable to BC charities by interfering in the eligibility process for political purposes.

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