Province sitting on Fraser Health service plan

2011 spending document under wraps eight months into fiscal year

Fraser Health spends $2.5 billion a year but its 2011 service plan detailing its priorities is now eight months overdue.

The year is almost over but Fraser Health has yet to release its 2011 service plan that details its priorities and spending – information critics say is needed to scrutinize the authority’s $2.5 billion budget and hold its appointed board to account.

Service plans previously were released in early fall – already months late for a fiscal year that begins April 1.

But this year all health authority service plans remain stuck in Victoria, where provincial government officials say more work continues to finalize them.

“The ministry has been busy working with health authorities to ensure the information and the data is accurate,” a health ministry spokesman said. “This work is important because these plans lay out a complex, three-year operational plan.”

He said the reports should be released within a few weeks.

NDP leader Adrian Dix called the delay ridiculous and said it reflects a continuing government effort to hide the details of health spending and planning.

“Only a Liberal government would consider it good practice to release a plan for a year starting April 1 after Dec. 1,” Dix said.

Service plans were originally created on a promise to bring “transparency, openness and accountability” to health planning.

“They’ve stripped the service plans in previous years of many of their indicators and now they can’t even get those out on time,” Dix said.

Health authority service plans originally had 77 performance indicators to measure patient care, hospital wait times and other objectives.

But many of the ones that turned up bad results were quietly dropped. By 2010, just eight performance measures remained, although the province said the changes were just to standardize reporting.