October 31st, 2020

Province audits Supervised Consumption Site – board chair says ARCHES co-operating


By Kalinowski, Tim on March 5, 2020.

A team of auditors sanctioned by Alberta Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan makes their way to the Lethbridge Supervised Consumption Site Wednesday morning. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

A team of auditors sanctioned by Alberta Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan entered the ARCHES-run Supervised Consumption Site in Lethbridge on Wednesday. According to Herald sources, the team was tasked with looking into alleged potential spending irregularities at the SCS.

Kassandra Kitz, press secretary for Minister Luan, released a statement to The Herald late Wednesday afternoon confirming the audit.

“We expect all service providers to perform their duties to the highest possible standard to protect the safety of all Albertans,” she said. “The government recently learned of possible financial irregularities at the Lethbridge Supervised Consumption Services Site. We take any allegations made against a publicly funded health facility or service provider extremely seriously. As we provide public funds to this site, we have launched a financial audit to assess whether the allegations have merit, and if any improprieties have occurred. This audit will be completed as soon as possible, and we will not comment or speculate further.”

There is no word from the government what this audit launched on Wednesday might mean for ongoing operations at the ARCHES site.

The Herald did reach out for comment from ARCHES on the audit.

ARCHES board chair Aaron Fitchett stated his organization and staff were fully co-operating with the audit.

“We don’t know what they are looking for,” stated Fitchett, confirming the auditors had only said they were following up on an anonymous tip. “We believe we have complied with our government funding agreement, and we have done an excellent job of accounting and reporting on those agreements. It is the will of the government to conduct an audit at any time … Our staff were completely compliant and helpful. We provided anything they wanted.”

Fitchett said he felt the timing of the audit was stressful given the process would be ongoing for some time, and the auditors decided to begin the process on the eve of when the Supervised Consumption Services Review Committee report was due out.

“The timing is very stressful for the staff that were asked to participate in the audit today,” he admitted. “This is a staff of people who are incredibly dedicated to serving marginalized populations in Lethbridge, people who use drugs, people experiencing homelessness, people living with HIV, the LGBTQ + community, people who are living with mental illness and addiction. I don’t know if this is targeted in terms of the timing, but I am hopeful that is not the case.”

The province announced on Wednesday the Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) Review Committee would be tabling its final report today.

The SCS Review Committee visited Lethbridge for two days last September to hear about the social and economic impacts of providing supervised consumption services on the community. Critics of the process said the review committee’s mandate was too narrow, and did not seek input on the harm reduction benefits associated with the supervised consumption site from community stakeholders.

On Monday, Luan confirmed to The Herald funding for all SCS services in the province would be retained at current funding levels until the SCS panel report was released and final decisions were made on the future of the sites themselves.

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ewingbt

Finally we will begin to get some truthful and honest answers! We all know many of the numbers didn’t make sense . . . I hope that we finally see some JUSTICE!

biff

didn’t know you were privy to the numbers, ewing. how did you access the books? especially amazing seeing as most have been complaining about the lack of transparency at the scs.
hope this clears the air and we gain transparency that appears to have been sorely lacking.
meanwhile, while we have an auditing team here in lethbridge: AUDIT CITY HALL! LOOK AT THE LAND DEALS INVOLVING CITY OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS; THERE SHOULD BE ENOUGH CONCERN TO THEN GO BACK ANOTHER 10….

Seth Anthony

The investigation and audit is mainly due to allegations from an arches employee that is involved in their finances.

Yes, I know that for a fact, and no, I won’t say more about it.

UncleBuck

The former city manager (before Bram) paid himself $300,000.00 a year. He was city manager for a long time, so he walked away with millions likely.

Before he left his post, they negotiated a land deal just before the last election where the land holders on the west side were paid (from taxpayer monies) $20,000,000.00, and in turn those land holders pay the city $1 a year in a lease until the city wants to develop that land.

Meanwhile the late conservative MP Jim Hillyer cost the taxpayers over $250,000.00 a year in travel expenses and such.

It’s easy for people to point fingers at the SCS while willfully ignoring the business as usual going on in provincial/federal/municipal governance structures.

Seth Anthony

Except this discussion is about how ARCHES runs the SCS. There’s thousands of online discussions about the other issues you spoke of.

ChuckB

Look over there….. Nothing to see here…

The city and MP’s are not what is being discussed here.
Stay on track please