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$1.7 million announced for HST referendum public engagement

Government will provide $1.7 million in funding to ensure that  well-informed public engagement on the Harmonized Sales Tax occurs across  the province in advance of the referendum, Attorney General Barry Penner  announced last Thursday.

Under the plan government will:

* Provide a total of $500,000 for the “yes” and “no” sides, subject to  conditions on the appropriate use of public funding and accountability for  spending.

* Create a Public Dialogues Fund of $500,000 to be independently managed  by the province’s public universities, colleges and institutes to hold  informative public dialogues in advance of the referendum.

* Produce and send a comprehensive voter’s guide to every home in British  Columbia with information on the referendum including statements provided  directly by the main “yes” and “no” groups, a summary of the independent  panel report on the HST, and other information to help inform voters about  the referendum ballot. The cost of this guide is approximately $700,000.

In order to ensure a fair process for allocating public funding and  mediate any disputes over the format and locations for the public  dialogues, the Honourable Stephen Owen, QC, PC has been appointed as an  independent funding decision-maker. Owen, a former B.C. Ombudsman, is  acting in a personal capacity utilizing his extensive background in public  engagement and mediation. He will make public funding allocation decisions  for both sides as well as finalizing an appropriate format and locations  for the public dialogues.

Universities, colleges and institutes will engage a project  manager to look after  managing and executing the public engagement  program.


- Ministry of Finance press release