(Province of British Columbia)

BC launched a forensic investigation into BC Housing in 2022 which found that the former CEO had been mismanaging the organization’s financials due to a conflict of interest.

Former CEO Shayne Ramsey had been called out because his wife, Janice Abbott, is the CEO of Atira Women’s Resource Society, which stood to benefit from BC Housing.

The investigation resulted in 20 recommendations to improve financial oversight on behalf of the organization to prevent conflicts of interest going forward and improve accountability.

Some of these recommendations have already been implemented while others will be down the road, according to BC Housing. 

Premier Eby was Minister Responsible for Housing in 2021 and he was the one who initiated an external review that would lead to the investigation.

“We expect the rules to be followed,” said Premier David Eby. “There must be strong safeguards in place to preserve the public’s trust.” 

“In 2021, I ordered a review into concerns at BC Housing, which ultimately led to today’s findings. We are working with the new leadership at BC Housing to implement all 20 of the report’s recommendations to ensure that BC Housing operates effectively as we deliver housing for people.”

The initial review brought to light further issues and discrepancies that eventually led to the former CEO’s resignation being tendered in September 2022 and a full-on forensic investigation being launched.

“We’re building a record amount of housing, but we need to do even more,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “That means our organizations must be equipped to properly manage these public funds.”

“We have a new leadership team in place at BC Housing, who are leading the work to implement these recommendations and those from last year’s review. We’re united in our efforts to strengthen BC Housing’s processes and capacity as we continue to deliver the homes people need.”

The investigation did not find that public funds had been dispersed outside of their intended purpose; however, BC Housing’s financial oversight processes were called into question. 

The 20 recommendations which resulted from this investigation must be fully implemented by spring of next year. Some of these include:

  • The creation of an anonymous employee whistleblower hotline (completed)
  • Changes at the executive committee level to ensure enhanced controls in the way that projects are approved (completed)
  • Enhanced governance and oversight through new processes and structures created with the new Ministry of Housing (completed/underway)
  • A government representative on the board (completed)
  • Strengthened standards of conduct/conflict of interest policies (completed/in progress)
  • Changes in how budget and financial reviews of housing providers are completed (in progress)
  • Enhanced tracking and reporting to the board of the budget and financial review process (in progress)

Atira Women’s Resource Society (AWRS) will be under review from the BC government and will be restricted in their funding and will not be considered for new building management or operation opportunities until the review is complete. 

AWRS will also be losing their licensing and the properties they operate will be physically inspected beginning May 9th.

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