VICTORIA – British Columbia auditor general Michael Pickup says the province’s public institutions are susceptible to fraud, but he can’t release specifics about the theft and corruption reported to his office in a survey conducted this year.
Pickup says the survey of 23 public bodies that manage more than 85 per cent of provincial assets showed more than half had been the victim of some form of fraud in the past year.
The survey respondents included the B.C. Pavilion Corp., the B.C. Lottery Corp., Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia, the Insurance Corporation of B.C., several health authorities and two school districts, among others.
He says the survey results show the province’s public institutions, including Crown corporations, school boards and health authorities, all need to be aware of fraud risks and educate employees to spot potential instances.
Pickup says the most commonly reported form of fraud was theft of physical assets, with 43 per cent of respondents reporting cases in the last year.
The auditor general says the survey is meant to “promote discussion” about deterring and detecting fraud, and elected officials can dig deeper into the results to hold government accountable about specific instances.
Pickup says fraud risk management is standardized across government ministries but not in public sector organizations, and more awareness among staff, management and the public of the risks can help reduce risks on the public purse.
“The more you talk about these things, the more you look at doing these things and the more these things are implemented,” Pickup says. “That is what actually is going to reduce the incidence of the theft of physical assets.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2023.