PROVINCE ANNOUNCES INTERIM MANAGER APPOINTED TO OVERSEE ADMINISTRATION OF MIDDLECHURCH HOME OF WINNIPEG
– – – Proper Oversight of Public Funds Top Priority Following Ombudsman's Report: Oswald
An interim manager has been put in place at Middlechurch Home of Winnipeg following the receipt and review of a Manitoba ombudsman’s report, titled Report on Investigations of Allegations of Wrongdoing at Middlechurch Home of Winnipeg Inc., which cites gross mismanagement of public funds at Middlechurch, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.
“Manitoba families expect accountability for their tax dollars and that includes funding for independent personal-care homes,” said Oswald. “Manitoba families have come to expect quality patient care and accountability from Manitoba’s personal-care homes. The ombudsman has made it clear the administrators at Middlechurch failed to provide adequate governance and accountability, and that’s why we’re taking action.”
The ombudsman found that Middlechurch’s executive director and board committed several acts of gross mismanagement of public funds and acts of gross mismanagement arising from significant breaches to Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) and Middlechurch policies and procedures. The ombudsman concluded wrongdoing had occurred and made 10 recommendations, eight of which were directed to the management of Middlechurch, one to the Winnipeg Health Region recommending a review to ensure the financial practices of other personal-care homes are aligned with WRHA polices, and one to Manitoba Health and the Winnipeg Health Region recommending that appropriate action be taken to ensure proper governance and oversight of the operations of Middlechurch.
Manitoba Health accepts the findings and recommendations of the Manitoba ombudsman’s report, which was initiated by a whistleblower under Manitoba’s Whistleblower Protection Act. The whistleblower initially brought their concerns to the WRHA, which initiated an audit. These findings were passed onto to the ombudsman’s office to be included as part of its investigation.
Given the findings of the ombudsman’s investigation, specifically the board’s systematic failure to provide an appropriate level of oversight in the expenditure of large amounts of public funds, and its failure to exercise due diligence with those funds, the minister has appointed an interim manager for the personal-care home. Management of Middlechurch will be turned back over to the board of directors as soon as the minister is satisfied there is proper governance oversight at Middlechurch.
Manitoba Health, together with the Winnipeg Health Region, has initiated the following plan to immediately address issues raised by the report and to ensure all personal-care homes in Manitoba are in full compliance with conflict of interest polices and accepted accounting practices:
appointing Ernst & Young Inc. as the interim manager to assume control of the facility;
referring the report to the police for further review out of an abundance of caution;
initializing a review of accounting practices and procedures at other personal-care homes to ensure they are in full compliance with policies and procedures; and
incorporating the ombudsman’s findings into new, tougher regulations already being developed to improve financial transparency and accountability in regional health authorities (RHAs), hospitals and personal-care homes.
“Over the last year, we have engaged in a number of public discussions regarding the need for increased transparency and oversight of publicly funded health organizations,” said Oswald. “This instance, though rare, reinforces the need for these conversations to continue, with a view toward implementing even stronger standards for accountability and public oversight.”
Manitoba has high standards for transparency and accountability in health care, the minister said. CEOs of personal-care homes are already required to publicly disclose their salaries and recent amendments to the Regional Health Authorities Act will strengthen the transparency and accountability of public funding in the health-care sector by:
implementing tighter controls on executive compensation in RHAs, hospitals and other health corporations;
requiring that CEO expenses for RHAs, hospitals and personal-care homes be posted online; and
ensuring that if a health organization has a surplus of public funds, there is improved accountability and transparency for how those funds are used.