Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit May 29, 2017 - 10:00 am

Nunavut government scrutinizes women’s shelter finances

GN's Family Services audits YWCA Agvvik Nunavut for alleged financial irregularities

STEVE DUCHARME
The Qimaavik women's shelter in Apex: the GN is currently auditing YWCA Aggvik Nunavut, which runs the shelter, for alleged financial irregularities. (FILE PHOTO)
The Qimaavik women's shelter in Apex: the GN is currently auditing YWCA Aggvik Nunavut, which runs the shelter, for alleged financial irregularities. (FILE PHOTO)

The YWCA-affiliated Agvvik Nunavut, which operates the Qimaavik women’s shelter in Iqaluit, was on damage control duty last week following media reports which alleged financial mismanagement, referring to a forensic audit into employee salary irregularities over the last few years.

The Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services confirmed that investigators are performing a forensic audit of YWCA Agvvik Nunavut’s financial records, in a statement sent to Nunatsiaq News May 26.

“An independent auditor has been hired to undertake a detailed financial review of the file. The audit is anticipated to be completed by the end of summer 2017,” the Department of Family Services said.

CBC North reported that a number of financial documents were leaked to territorial and federal agencies alleging salary mismanagement for the shelter’s employees and a “blank-cheque” culture within the organization from a past executive director.

Those documents accompany a number of irregularities pointed out by chartered accounting firm Lester Landau which, in the course of its own audit, pointed out similar staff wages, bonuses, and reimbursement irregularities in YWCA Agvvik Nunavut’s 2015-16 financial statement.

“The Board of Directors of YWCA Agvvik Nunavut are aware of the package that has been received from an anonymous source, and the allegations contained in these documents,” the Agvvik board told Nunatsiaq News.

“The Government of Nunavut is conducting due diligence and we are welcoming and fully cooperating in any review of our financial management controls.”

The bulk of the accusations obtained by CBC in the leaked documents went unverified after Agvvik and the GN declined to comment on specific details.

The YWCA Canada head office in Toronto declined to provide further information when approached by Nunatsiaq News, citing privacy concerns and the ongoing audit.

“Our office is conducting due diligence and working alongside YWCA Agvvik Nunavut and their board of directors to ensure an open and transparent process is in place to examine the concerns raised,” YWCA Canada said in a statement.

“YWCA Canada fully supports YWCA Agvvik Nunavut and their essential work to provide shelter, housing and support for women and their families.”

According to its publicly available financial records on the Canada Revenue Agency website, YWCA Agvvik Nunavut received about $1.9 million in public funding over the 2015–16 fiscal year, comprising about 93 per cent of its total revenue.

But the organization closed out that fiscal year with a $244,743 net deficit.

The women’s shelter—currently the only shelter operating in Nunavut—received a sizeable boost from the City of Iqaluit in 2017 thanks to $57,000 from the city’s Niksiit committee for each of the next five years

According to documentation provided by Niksiit to city council April 11, the shelter requested the money for repairs and renovations, and to have more staff during the night.

The money, the shelter said, was needed “to keep it open.”

According to its CRA filings, YWCA Agvvik Nunavut reported 17 full-time employees, with 20 part-time employees in 2015-16, for $1,349,087 in total pay.

One full-time employee was reportedly earning between $160,000 and $199,999, according to CRA pay brackets, while another made between $80,000 and $119,999—the two highest earning employees for that year.

CBC reported that during that year, the organization’s executive director made about $75,000 in “shift replacement payments” in addition to a regular salary.
Heather Daley, the organization’s current board of directors president, was elected in November 2016.

“The board recognizes the seriousness of the situation and fully supports the forensic audit. We are committed to serving the Iqaluit community and in supporting women fleeing domestic violence,” Daley said, in an email to Nunatsiaq News.

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