The New Democrat government in British Columbia started the spring legislative session promising more affordable homes for vulnerable people, but ended the sitting Thursday amid turmoil over its public housing agency.

An Ernst and Young audit released Monday found mismanagement and risk to public dollars at the Crown corporation BC Housing, and has the government facing sharp criticism as it left the legislature pledging tighter controls.

The audit concluded there was mismanagement related to a conflict of interest between Shayne Ramsay, the former chief executive officer at BC Housing, and his spouse, Janice Abbott, who is CEO at Atira Women's Resource Society, the corporation's largest housing operator.

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said Thursday the government will continue to provide housing to people who need it most, but for now has halted new funding to Atira and will launch another audit.

"We will not be providing any new dollars," he said. "We will be doing an audit on where the dollars are going and making sure that they are spent according to what they were sent to them for."

Opposition BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said the report uncovers a scandal that points toward Premier David Eby, a former housing minister.

"My friends, this has been a continued pattern with this premier, and frankly the public's not being served well when they're not being transparent and honest about just how big this scandal at BC Housing really is," he said.

Falcon said the session, which started in February, was "forgettable."

"I would just ask British Columbians: does anyone feel like anything is better after this legislative session?" he said.

NDP leaves spring sitting at legislature facing turmoil in public housing management. #BCPoli #Housing

Falcon said health care has deteriorated to the point where doctors are telling patients at some hospitals not to show up at emergency wards because of physician shortages.

"Then we've got crime," he said. "Who on earth thinks that crime on our streets has gotten any safer?"

Falcon said the housing issue goes beyond the current situation with BC Housing.

"British Columbians are staring at the highest housing prices in North America and the highest average rents in Canada," he said.

Kahlon said the government passed 25 pieces of legislation this spring, including new laws that allow police to seize proceeds of crime, help close the gender pay gap and make the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a statutory holiday.

"From the first day of this session until the last, our focus has been on the things we can do in here to make people's lives better out there," Kahlon said in a statement.

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said she's concerned the government moves in directions opposite to what it says it will do.

"They say one thing and they do the other," she said, adding logging is occurring in areas where harvesting of old-growth forests was scheduled for deferral.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said measures the government implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic are paying dividends today.

He said the government's vaccination program, legislating paid sick days, ensuring 100 per cent of health workers are vaccinated and keeping public schools open were all measures that helped the province navigate the pandemic.

"The strength of our response here has been public health led, and that we've adapted," said Dix.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2023.

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