Auditor says B.C.'s salary cap preventing full audits of credit unions

VICTORIA – British Columbia’s auditor general says a staffing shortage at the Financial Institution Commission is hampering the review process for provincial credit unions.

Carol Bellringer’s progress audit on credit union supervision says there’s a 37 per cent vacancy rate for staff at the commission, and without more staff it’s unable to meet the goal of reviewing all credit unions every two to three years.

Bellringer’s report says the commission gets enough money from credit unions and other organizations that it monitors to offer competitive salaries, but it isn’t able to hire the staff under the government pay scale it must use.

Because the skills needed are in high demand, the report recommends the provincial government allow the commission to offer market-appropriate salaries.

B.C. has 42 credit unions and their more than 1.9-million members have over $58 billion of insured deposits, and the auditor says there’s a continued risk if the commission can’t fulfil its goal of monitoring credit unions.

The review stems from an audit by Bellringer’s office in 2013 that made 11 recommendations to improve the process, including increasing the number of staff.

“There is a continuing risk to B.C.’s credit unions and its members if FICOM can’t do its job,” her report says.

“It’s like having a smoke detector in your home, but not buying the batteries. No batteries, no early warning system.”

The report says the commission has made progress from the 11 recommendations in the original 2013 report, but three of the recommendations remain undone because of staff shortages.