BY DERMOD TRAVIS
There’s nothing quite like poring through 87,527 credit card charges to the B.C. government’s plastic in 2016/17.
Charges that can often be on top of a company’s billings to existing government accounts. For instance, last year, Sensus Communications billed the government $79,286, while various ministries put an additional $58,059 on plastic.
There were charges for $15,677 at BCCAT (B.C. Council On Admissions & Transfer), $1,628 at CATAP (Canadian Association of Threat Assessment Professionals) and $570 at MMCDA (Master Municipal Construction Documents Association).
International Trade charged $13,585 at AVEQIA in London, England for hosting a Taste of B.C. event.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure charged $799 at DPSSKIS-QUIVRSINC. May have something to do with skis, or not.
Former premier Christy’s Clark office billed $5,939 at PRMRC, which is either the Private Royal Marines Reserve Commandos or Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort in Cranbrook.
Putting my money on the latter.
Clark – who once called the magazine the experts on boring – finally got round to subscribing to the Economist this past year and the New York Times to boot.
The office also charged $599 with U.K. jeweller Toye, Kenning and Spencer and $1,770 at Chloë Angus Design, the former premier’s fashion designer of choice in Vancouver. The latter likely covered the cost of gifts for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their visit last fall.
In keeping with its mandate, the Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction charged $8,567 at Annual Convention.
After all, is it really necessary to know whose convention it was or is that just another layer of needless government red tape?
Five ministries charged $6,142 at FileMaker, 15 spent $21,353 at Records Management and 18 billed a paltry $138,756 with Shred-It.
The premier’s office only appears among the charges at Shred-It.
In the skies, Air Canada was the carrier of choice at $4.9 million, followed by Helijet ($1.9 million), Harbour Air ($1.6 million) and WestJet ($1 million).
Top three frequent flyers on HeliJet were Transportation ($190,089), Education ($195,616) and Health ($400,366).
B.C. Ferries was left in their collective wake at $315,772.
You can add charges with another 40 airlines ($561,000), various travel agencies ($439,000) and at least $1.6 million for hotels to the overall travel bill.
Various ministries spent nights at Treasure Cove Casino and Hotel ($2,152), Billy Barker Casino and Hotel ($4,815), Chances ($8,818) and River Rock Hotel and Casino ($13,856).
Others charged $11,270 at Double Tree by Hilton, Four Points by Sheraton ($12,984) and Four Seasons Hotel ($108,590), $87,310 of which was charged at the Four Seasons in Seoul, South Korea.
A charge of $15,400 by the Croatian Cultural Centre was on a bill at Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, while a $100 charge with Dream Lottery was found on a bill at Technology, Innovation and and Citizens’ Services.
Justice charged $220 with the Ontario March of Dimes, $801 at the United Kingdom’s General Register Office and – in case you’re ever looking for a crown prosecutor – $14,686 at Earls on Hornby in Vancouver.
There were ministry charges at Be Fresh ($68), Be Prepared ($895) and Be Wiched Cafe ($82).
In the sometimes it’s best not to ask department, Justice also charged $255 at – or for – a Vancouver Special.
Would have thought the Ministry of Natural Gas Development would have opted for gas, but instead went for Candlelight Catering ($184).
Environment charged $140 at Go Fresh, $637 at GoPro and $1,191 at GoDaddy.
Businesses with box in their name were a thing too, with charges at ColourBox.com ($17), Light in the Box ($234), Black Box Canada ($993), Artbox ($1,811), Great Little Box ($2,141) and BigSteelBox.com ($3,428).
Restaurants in Kamloops were popular at Transportation, including Flavours of India ($1,005), Senor Froggy Restaurant ($1,358), Spice of India ($1,833) and Dorian Greek House ($5,436).
In the fast food department, McDonald’s ($20,674) was champ, followed by Dairy Queen ($3,124), Pita Pit ($1,309), Wendy’s ($880), KFC ($417) and Burger King ($161).
But the big fav for eating on the go was pizza, with Boston Pizza out in front ($35,820), followed by Domino’s ($9,974) and Panago ($7,084).
Tim Horton’s ($63,581) beat out Starbucks ($21,119) in the coffee wars.
Health charged $150 at Dietitians Canada and $1,385 at Cakes Etc.
Not surprisingly, fitness was big with more than $148,000 in charges at various equipment suppliers, including 11 ministries charging $95,953 at Fitter First.
Various ministries charged $11,589 at Ikea and $31,762 with the Leadership Circle.
Transportation charged $104 at Dress for Less, Children and Family development $604 with BreakOutNanaimo.com (a reality game), Natural Gas Development $656 at Taste Vancouver Food Tours, Agriculture $1,513 with Airbnb and Finance charged $3,363 with Toastmasters.
Even ministries get stung for hospital parking. Fraser Health Parking charged Children and Family Development $2,360.
Ever wonder why those photos of ordinary British Columbians doing ordinary things in government advertising never seem to be of British Columbians that anyone recognizes? Thank istock ($6,364) and Getty Images ($21,719).
There were also charges with Flickr ($225), Netflix ($232), iTunes ($9,012), Facebook ($11,021), LinkedIn ($11,109), Google ($15,547), Microsoft Store ($15,075), Apple Store ($202,737) and Amazon ($338,631).
The Yellow Pages was left with $659.
Bringing new meaning to papering the house, sixteen ministries and the Public Service Agency were dinged $80,799 by last year’s #BCTECH Summit, mostly for registration fees. Reboot Communications charged various ministries $160,755 for its conferences.
Ministries charged $5,446 at Canadian Dam Association, while Environment charged $162 at Dam Beaver Trapping Supplies. Different kind of dams, I believe.
Three ministries charged $11,550 with Lovink Media, a firm that bills itself as “specialists in (media) training, strategy and emergency planning preparedness and video.”
One savings to the government from removing tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ear bridges will be the $92,194 in charges slapped on government credit cards for crossing the bridges.
Four ministries resorted to plastic to pay BC Hydro bills ($2,655).
And who knew Ernst & Young took Mastercard? More importantly, who would have thought the Ministry of Finance might not be good for the $3,160 bill?
Then again after the B.C. Hydro charges, maybe they know something we don’t.
Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca