Breaking Down the Proposed Destination BC

Victoria Parliament Building
Victoria Parliament Building

Looking at just the facts, former Tourism BC CEO Roderick Harris compares the legislation that governed Tourism BC when he helmed it and the proposed Destination BC.

Tourism BC (TBC): A 15-member board with at least 10 directors are to be individuals nominated and recommended by the Board.
Destination BC (DBC): A 9-member board that includes four tourism industry representatives and 5 others chosen by the Minister with industry input.

Harris: “Already the power in the DBC Board is other than the tourism industry.”

TBC: 3% of the 8% hotel tax will flow immediately into the organization without going into consolidated revenue.
DBC: Formula funding, currently unknown. Proposed that DBC will receive a lump sum of money under voted appropriation in the calendar year being proposed.

Harris: “They haven’t been transparent in what the formula for DBC will be.”

Board Chair
TBC: On the recommendation of the Board, the Lieutenant Governor & must appoint one of the directors as Chair.

Harris: “The Tourism BC act said that on the recommendation of the board the Lieutenant Governor and council must appoint one of the directors as chair. Nothing has been said about that [for Destination BC]. It could easily be the minister will pick the individual who is funding the Liberal party with the most amount of money to be the chair, or maybe his sister-in-law. I’m being facetious…but again it’s lacking transparency.”

Powers of the Board
TBC: The Board must manage the affairs of the Corporation.
DBC: Government will approve the organization goals, objectives and performance measure Service Plans and Service Plan Reports.

Harris: “What’s proposed for Destination BC [above] is contained in a backgrounder that accompanied a press release, so definitely government will control the organization, not the board. The minister has been quoted as saying this is what industry negotiated or industry created. That is factually inaccurate. What happened was the bureaucrats, Dana Hayden—who was Deputy Minister or Jobs and Innovation or something—she’s currently acting CEO of PAVCO, but is responsible of the file to negotiate this. So she knows more about the internal workings of government than any of the industry people could hope to know, and for good reason: her entire working career has been spent in government. So she is the one who’s controlling it and this is what they have determined. When [the minister said] “with industry not government or a bureaucrat,” that’s wrong. It is a bureaucrat. And we know who the bureaucrat is, it’s Dana Hayden. And this is what they have said will be the case. So industry is in a compromised position in negotiating the right structure.”

TBC: On the recommendation of the Board, the Lieutenant Governor and Council may appoint a person as the Chief Executive Officer.

Update: The Destination BC Board of Directors has appointed Dana Hayden as interim CEO.

TBC: On considering recommendations of the Board, the Lieutenant Governor & Council may determine remuneration.
DBC: Government will provide guidelines.

Harris: “’May’ was the important word in the Tourism BC stipulation. What this means is government guidelines were always in place that provided oversight for compensation practices, and Tourism BC followed those to a T. Under DBC it says ‘will’ provide guidelines, so that means government will determine what compensation will consist of as opposed to guidelines.

TBC: The Public Service Act (PSA) and Public Service Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) do not apply to the corporation or to a director, officer or employee of the corporation.
DBC: The PSA and PSLRA will apply.

Harris: “For DBC this means that the central agencies of government will control the whole thing. They may determine that all hiring will have to originate from in-service candidates, which means current, present government employees, which means the organization will not be given permission to go external to hire. Currently, the organization has 20 vacancies. To receive approval to fill those vacancies they have to get approval from a central agency of government because of PSA and PSLRA. They are not being given that approval. They are operating with a tremendous deficit in staffing. Also, if they are going external to out of service candidates, they have to get similar level of approval and my understanding is that is very difficult to accomplish. So to attract talent and to motivate and retain talent becomes extremely difficult when these measures are in place. One has to ask the question: for other crown corporations—BC Hydro, ICBC, BC Lotteries Corp, BC Pavilion Corp—do these same measures apply? I would suggest not.
Secondly, look at the bargaining unit: what this means is the master agreement of government will apply. So when all of government decides to go out on strike or can’t have a negotiated settlement, staff is obligated to go out on strike. Another issue deals with compensation practices. For employees who are bargaining unit members, when they travel overseas all the time they spend in an airplane they have to be compensated for that, either in cash or time off in lieu of payment. Those are the rules of the master agreement. It means that the flexibility of an operating model that is more responsive to the needs of the organization is not observed.”

Business Plan
TBC: The Board must prepare a business plan mutually satisfactory to the minister and the Board.
DBC: A government Letter of Expectation will establish a mandate and…expectations.

Harris: “When the act was being drafted the thought was that the minister would approve the plan. An agreement was arrived at where it would be mutual satisfaction. In other words, both the board and the minister would have a meeting of minds. At the end of the day they will agree. It means there will be compromise and give and take. Under the proposal for DBC that provision does not exist.”

Management Authority
TBC: The CEO must carry out the functions and duties that the Board specifies.
DBC: The Board will be required to establish a marketing committee to advise it on marketing priorities, performance indicators…. Government will set operational performance indicators related to: Organizational performance – e.g. maximum administrative costs, tourism performance, etc.

Harris: “We had the ability as an organization with the board to question those activities that were suspect and to ensure that the organization met its responsibilities in a good and businesslike manner. I would argue that is very difficult under what is being proposed for Destination BC.”