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Many Rivers subject of RCMP forensic audit

The Yukon RCMP are conducting a forensic audit into Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

By Gabrielle Plonka on October 16, 2020

The Yukon RCMP are conducting a forensic audit into Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services, a spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

“In February 2020, a criminal investigation into this matter was initiated by the RCMP,” an RCMP spokesperson said in an email.

“Previously, the Yukon Government had completed a ‘financial review’ that did not definitively determine a criminal element.”

The RCMP’s forensic audit is “comprehensive in nature” and intended to determine whether there was criminal wrongdoing in the management of Many Rivers’ finances. 

The RCMP would not provide any further details while the investigation is underway.

A forensic audit is an evaluation of an organization’s financial records to derive evidence for a court or legal proceeding.

After a bitter strike by its employees, Many Rivers shut its doors permanently last summer after accruing more than $500,000 in debt.

The government cut funding after noting “areas of concern” in the budget, including a pay raise and $25,000 doctorate degree for then-executive director Brent Ramsay.

There was also a number of expenditures exceeding the budget by thousands of dollars and missing quarterly variance reports that would have explained those expenses.

Last year, Health Minister Pauline Frost said a forensic audit wasn’t planned for Many Rivers because there wasn’t suspected criminal wrongdoing.

A third-party audit didn’t find criminal behaviour, so her department couldn’t trigger the audit, she said. She chalked the debt up to “poor management.”

Frank Turner, an ex-Many Rivers board member, told the Star this morning his investigation into the finances seemed to show a mishandling of funds.

He said he was pleased to learn that a forensic audit is underway, though it was a “huge surprise” given Frost’s previous stance.

Turner has previously denounced the government’s lack of management over Many Rivers.

“(The government) was giving these guys $2 million a year, and what went down at Many Rivers didn’t just happen in six months or one year,” Turner said.

“They weren’t providing oversight, because there were questions and red flags being raised.”

When Turner and his fellow board members resigned last August, they hoped it would push responsibility and accountability onto the government.

Now, Turner said, the forensic audit will have to dive deep to find the roots of the problem.

“They’re doing an audit on what the board did and it wasn’t just incompetence....” Turner said.

“It wasn’t just one year – I hope they go back; it’ll be really interesting to see.”

Turner said he dove deep into Many Rivers’ meeting minutes in an attempt to sort through the finances – but found many decisions were made during in-camera meetings.

“They didn’t put a lot of stuff into the minutes,” Turner said.

He said he has not been contacted by RCMP regarding the investigation.

Watson Lake MLA Patti McLeod, the Yukon Party’s health critic, pressed the ministers of health and justice on the audit during question period Thursday.

Neither Frost nor Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee would provide details.

“The Government of Yukon is fully co-operating with the RCMP in this investigation,” McPhee said.

“As the matter is under investigation by the RCMP, the Government of Yukon will not be providing further comment – it would not be appropriate to do so.”

Comments (24)

Up 2 Down 0

Oya on Oct 22, 2020 at 3:16 pm

@ DMZ. The building was recently sold by NVD to Polar Eyes who is moving there very soon, if not already. The Board has some answering to do, that is for sure.

Up 12 Down 3

Moose on Oct 21, 2020 at 8:51 pm

I would also point out that Jim Cahill, who I believe was the Many Rivers treasurer, was or maybe still is the financial agent for the NDP both territorially and federally. Might be worth checking to see if the NDP had any funny business going with Many Rivers as well. They have been known to stir the pot in a lot of places, especially unions.

Up 10 Down 2

Nathan Living on Oct 21, 2020 at 6:23 pm

This fiasco is not the fault of the minister.
I say it's due to senior government officials and the board of Many Rivers.
The board should have overseen spending and accountability.

To blame it all on someone else is creative and inappropriate. The board had the responsibility to direct and audit spending, finger pointing does little to help in this situation.

Up 27 Down 2

Lost In the Yukon on Oct 20, 2020 at 11:32 pm

... another crisis brought to you by an arrogant Minister of HSS and her invisible Deputy Minister.

Up 25 Down 3

Lost In the Yukon on Oct 20, 2020 at 11:23 pm

Those who work for the Minister of HSS speak of an alleged bad temper and an attitude that appears to suggest that the only opinion cared about is her own and Facebook’s. Woefully over her head since day one but slippery Sandi Silver lacks the leadership and courage (fear of alienating a voting block) to do what needs to be done. There have been so many screw ups in HSS that continue into today but the media is afraid to dig into it ... like do some real investigative reporting.

Up 19 Down 2

DMZ on Oct 20, 2020 at 8:33 pm

What's happening with that building? Seems like no building should be empty while students aren't able to go to school for a whole day because of space issues. Or having their programs unduly disrupted.

Up 23 Down 0

Knowitall on Oct 20, 2020 at 5:33 pm

Nathan, you may be right about the fact that money can't be stolen if its been given to a board or director, so perhaps the RCMP may want to question Marina Bailey, Marian Horn, Larry Kwiat, Jim Cahill, Brian Bunning, Mike Paquin and Micheal Hanson. They were the board members listed on the Many Rivers website prior to Brent Ramsay running the Many Rivers ship aground; I'm sure they have all the answers as to where that money has gone, right? Maybe. Maybe not. If I were any one of them, I'd be hoping that as a board, they've crossed the T's and dotted the I's, but it sounds like that may well not be the case.

Only time will tell, but I get the feeling there's more to this than we know. YG is pretty aware of the where the 500k that's being written about here has gone; that was covered in the Crowe McKay review also cited in this article. Makes you wonder then, what's changed since last October when the Liberals said an audit wasn't going to take place.

Up 25 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Oct 20, 2020 at 4:40 pm

Those asking for accountability of the minister responsible and when we can expect that, sorry not until the next general election, then the entire Cabinet and their minions will be under the microscope. Until then don't expect Mr. Silver to do anything, if he thought it was important enough he would have acted by now.

Up 29 Down 0

Brenda on Oct 20, 2020 at 1:23 pm

YG always knew there was mismanagement - this was a political move to save money so they could put it somewhere else. Minister Frost and her go to defence “nothing going on here nothing to see” when you hear her say that you need to look into it. You do a forensic audit to determine if there is criminal issues or wrong doing. You are the Minister you are spending public money you are right Minister Frost “poor management” this seems to be a trend of yours.

Up 17 Down 15

Max Mack on Oct 20, 2020 at 9:42 am

I don't know Brent Ramsay.

But, for all those outraged about the funding of Brent Ramsay's degree . . . why is no one asking YTG how many DMs, ADMs, Ministers, and other managers have been funded to obtain degrees or attend expensive courses at prestigious institutes?

I strongly suspect the take-down of Many Rivers was coordinated and has to do with dirty, dirty politics -- not corruption or fraud. In my opinion, the RCMP are investigating the wrong people.

Up 4 Down 10

Nathan Living on Oct 20, 2020 at 12:20 am

If there was not much oversight they should just close the books and move on.
It's not fraud if there was no direction or accountability.

You cannot steal money if it's given to a board or a director. Some people may say it's not appropriate to pay for someone to study for a PhD as if they are still working while others say it's an organization investment.

Up 9 Down 8

Knowitall on Oct 19, 2020 at 10:20 pm

Unfeckingbelievable’s work mate!

I'm certainly not going to bat for YG here, but to assume that ones personal files would become public domain because the financial records are under forensic audit might be a funny enough concept for you to take to the comedy club.
YG has its flaws, but it's not as corrupt as Brent Ramsay.

Now go join Wilf Carter with your wingnut conspiracy theories.

Up 21 Down 5

Breanna on Oct 19, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Minister Frost has a track record of mishandling things - the Salvation Army shelter - disaster, Wann road group home that cost double what it should and is unoccupied, Group Home - nothing happened, cover up, oops it did happen I am sorry disaster and now this. When will there be acknowledgement and accountability? There are a few people who have benefited from her incompetence. The Family Service Director the Manager at Mental Wellness and Addictions, the ED at Many Rivers who got his doctorate on the public service some. What is next and when will she be held to account ?

Up 41 Down 9

Salt on Oct 19, 2020 at 9:50 am

Frost needs to be held accountable for her failures.

Up 14 Down 16

Unfeckingbelievable’s work mate! on Oct 19, 2020 at 7:31 am

@ Knowitall - A true ascension to knowledge is to know that you know nothing.

The government violates ATIPP and HIPMA on an ongoing basis as a matter of routine practice.
So, you can take your Knowitall moniker to the comedy club where the irony might be better appreciated.

Up 45 Down 3

Knowitall on Oct 18, 2020 at 10:41 am

Wilf Carter.
o, clients files won't be made public; that's totally ridiculous. This is an investigation into criminal matters to find how Brent Ramsay and the Board directors and officers broke the law.

No former client should be afraid of their files being accessed by the public. Stop fear mongering. The Yukon taxpayer deserves to know what's happened, but they don't get to read the client files that are now under YGs care.

Up 30 Down 11

My Opinion on Oct 17, 2020 at 4:13 pm

NGO's and NOT FOR PROFITS are the problem. Let businesses provide these services, allow them to make money. There is a cost for services to be provided. Do not set these things up for failure.

Up 39 Down 1

JC on Oct 17, 2020 at 11:48 am

I hope they drag Brent Ramsay back to the Yukon and **** that ************

Up 53 Down 0

Deborah Turner Davis on Oct 17, 2020 at 11:39 am

I hope this forensic audit and criminal investigations extends to the board of directors as well as ED Brent Ramsay. There were people in place, many hand-picked, all aware of the issues. If they were not aware, it's because they chose not to pay attention. They are all culpable and owe far more to Yukoners than the money that disappeared.

Up 0 Down 44

Wilf Carter on Oct 16, 2020 at 9:45 pm

So anyone who went there will have their records known to the public.

Up 47 Down 0

Knowitall on Oct 16, 2020 at 7:04 pm

Wow. Looks like Brent Ramsay might be paying out of pocket for his DBA from the Paris School of Business after all!

Up 71 Down 2

Thomas Brewer on Oct 16, 2020 at 5:01 pm

About time this happened... HSS tried covering the fraud and their own incompetency up, cannot wait to see the outcome of this investigation.

Up 57 Down 17

Sherry P on Oct 16, 2020 at 3:40 pm

Many thanks to the Yukon Party for getting the government to spill some info. They have been hiding information for long enough.

Up 58 Down 2

Josey Wales on Oct 16, 2020 at 3:27 pm

Took awhile, but sometimes it does I suppose.
White collar crime has been here a long time, various types of it.
Glad they are delving into things.

Hope too that the political does not dilute the police work, as it often seems to.

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