Message from the Minister and
The past year has been a positive one for the Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services. Ours is a ministry that is diverse in its scope, but all parts of the ministry have a common focus — providing excellent service to the citizens of British Columbia. We are proud of what we've accomplished together.
In fiscal 2005/2006, confidence in the provincial economy remained high — one of the benefits of a stable labour climate. The government continued to promote and encourage effective labour relations in both the public and private sectors. In the public sector, labour negotiations met with unprecedented success. More than 50 agreements were successfully negotiated before March 31, 2006 covering more than 75 per cent of public sector employees.
More people than ever are at work in B.C., and WorkSafeBC continues to be responsive to the needs of the province's workers and employers.
In our forests, workplace safety is of great concern. While there is no simple way to completely eliminate the risks from what is inherently hazardous work, we continued to look for solutions in consultation with the industry and its stakeholders. For its part, WorkSafeBC has increased compliance activities in a number of sectors. WorkSafeBC has also initiated TruckSafe, a broad-based strategy to help eliminate or reduce serious injuries and deaths involving commercial vehicles on our roads.
A backlog of more than 22,000 appeals was also virtually eliminated in March 2006, thanks to the hard work of staff at the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal. This provides more certainty for workers who often had outstanding appeals lingering in the system for years.
The ministry continued to lead the transformation of how services are delivered across government, and to improve upon the quality of services our citizens receive. One of the significant accomplishments this past year was the creation of the prototype for FrontCounter BC in Kamloops, a one-stop service centre to better serve clients of provincial natural resource ministries and agencies. FrontCounter BC was subsequently transferred to the Integrated Land Management Bureau with additional offices opened in Prince George, Nanaimo and Surrey.
In a similar approach, Shared Services BC brings together a wide range of services that include purchasing, payroll, information technology and, most recently, accommodation and real estate services. Expanding the shared services approach will further reduce costs and duplication, freeing up ministries and agencies to focus on delivering more and better services.
New information technologies not only hold great promise for changing how government services are delivered, they also have tremendous impact on people's daily lives. To maximize the benefits of those technologies, citizens, businesses and communities need access to affordable high-speed Internet services. Through Network BC, the Province continues to bridge the digital divide in rural and remote regions. Under a landmark agreement with TELUS, broadband Internet will soon be available in all 366 communities identified by the Premier's Technology Council.
With rapid advances in technology comes the need for comprehensive laws around the protection of privacy and personal information. British Columbia's privacy legislation is among the strongest of its kind in the world while continuing to ensure a high degree of openness and transparency in the actions of government.
These successes have been realized through the hard work of ministry staff, all of whom I applaud for their efforts. I would also like to recognize the contributions made by colleagues in other ministries and by our partners outside of government. Over the coming year, the Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services will continue to build upon these achievements to deliver services that are citizen-centred, to the benefit of all British Columbians.
The 2005/06 Ministry of Labour and Citizens' Services Annual Service Plan Report compares the actual results to the expected results identified in the ministry's 2005/06 – 2007/08 Service Plan Update. I am accountable for the results as reported.
Honourable Michael de Jong
Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services
June 30, 2006