Karen Hutt, Chair, IWK Board of Directors
Trust is earned over many experiences over many years. But trust is also fragile.
For decades, employees and volunteers of the IWK Health Centre have worked to the best of their abilities to serve children, youth, women and their families. These dedicated people have rightfully earned the community’s trust.
Earlier this summer, the IWK volunteer board was made aware of problems surrounding the expense claims of our CEO. We immediately engaged a professional auditing firm to undertake an independent review.
The board determined it would need to end the CEO’s employment and we accepted her resignation. Shortly after, the board received and approved all of the review’s 14 recommendations, each of which was intended to prevent anything like this from happening again. These corrective actions are now being implemented. We are monitoring this progress every week until all changes are in force.
We stated at that time that we would not be stopping there and we immediately asked the Auditor General of Nova Scotia for his help. He agreed with our concerns and has confirmed that his office will be conducting a performance audit of matters related to financial management and controls.
We welcome this and are working closely with his office to confirm details of the full review process, which will also provide the IWK with more rigorous operating and oversight procedures. The AG review will take several months and results will be reported publicly.
In addition, we have formally filed a complaint with the Halifax Regional Police; an investigation team is being assigned and we are handing over all related files. Respectful of the AG review and police investigation, there may be times when comments need to be withheld until the final outcomes are known.
We appreciate that this is extremely troubling to staff and many stakeholders of the IWK. The team at the IWK continues to provide the best frontline care for the children, youth, women and their families.
The IWK is a large and complex organization, and, as a board, we are taking steps to ensure something like this never recurs. In the meantime, we want every single donor to know the Maritime community can be confident that their donations to the IWK Foundation support the most urgent care priorities of the IWK, not the day-to-day operations of the Health Centre.
We are grateful for the support we have received throughout this incredibly challenging time. I want to reaffirm a commitment to be transparent and fully accountable. Organizations – from small non-profit community organizations, to larger health centres throughout the region, rely on their volunteer board members to be their stewards. As board members, we accept a significant responsibility when we agree to serve. Boards fundamentally place trust in their CEO and management.
Members of the IWK board are overcome with concern as we come to understand how that trust was breached. We will continue to ask the toughest of questions, and we will improve from this experience.
We are committed to holding ourselves and our colleagues to the highest of standards of governance. And we must continue to have the courage to make the tough decisions, like the ones we have recently made, so that we learn and get better going forward.
The people we serve and work alongside, and the public, deserve nothing less.