January 20th, 2021

Former ARCHES director says she was whistleblower

By Jensen, Randy on October 16, 2020.

Lethbridge Herald

Former ARCHES (AIDS Outreach Community Harm Reduction Education Support Society) managing director Jill Manning has publicly stated she acted as a whistleblower who provided government officials with crucial information for their audit and other investigations related to the organization.

In a statement posted to Facebook during an online discussion, which The Herald obtained a screen capture of before it was deleted, Manning responded to comments she had been forced to leave Lethbridge because of ongoing investigations into her role as a senior leader at ARCHES.

“Here’s the thing,” Manning stated. “I was the whistleblower to the government, and participated in both the audit and the criminal investigation – as a witness.”

She also stated she wasn’t currently under any investigation for her role with the organization, and had left Lethbridge because of ongoing negativity expressed toward her for trying, in her words, “to do good in this world.”

The Herald spoke to Manning briefly by phone on Thursday. She confirmed she made the statement on Facebook, but said she would have no further comment at this time.

The Herald has been unable to confirm through any official sources the merits of Manning’s claim to being a whistleblower, or the current state of any potential criminal investigations against any former ARCHES staff or personnel.

Back in March a team of auditors sanctioned by Alberta Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan entered the former supervised consumption site to undertake an investigation into allegations of financial irregularities at ARCHES. The Herald has never officially confirmed how the province came to know about these irregularities.

A leaked copy of an internal review of ARCHES obtained by The Herald in early July from local consultant Collaborative Strategies Business Consulting and Empowerment Solutions to Luan’s office following the audit painted a picture of a dysfunctional workplace setting, with some employees stating the atmosphere at the organization was “toxic” and “unhealthy.” Some of the organization’s managers further stated they felt like they were “constantly drowning” due to a general lack of direction in the organization.

Luan announced on July 15 the provincial government would be pulling all funding from ARCHES due to what he called a disturbing misappropriation of funds for expensive trips, staff gift cards, and other costly and unwarranted expenses. The audit was also unable to account for $1.6 million in provincial funds provided to the organization, possibly due, it said, to poor accounting practices and an overall lack of strong financial oversight by ARCHES board members.

The matter has since been referred to Lethbridge Police Service for further investigation.

In early August ARCHES announced it would be closing its SCS site and ending all its other community services. The former supervised consumption site closed for the final time on Aug. 31.

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So, it isn’t uncommon for someone that sees the ‘ship sinking’ to decide to ‘co-operate’ with police, it often gets them immunity. But after all the disinformation that has been spread by the SCS, who knows what to believe.
We know that in less than 2 years, one person alone could not have misappropriated so much, at least not a normal person.
Career criminals could . . . and was it just $1.6 million . . . remember they were none profit and received donations, some internationally. The WHO contributed a million, some say!
I am not sure if the LPS should be investigating this. This was local, but had national relationships and just where did all that money go? Did it go to local business to pacify them for their financial losses? Did someone get pay-offs? Did it go to Stacey’s biker security team and Chauffeur and her black Chrysler 300 used as a limo for her?
What about the earlier Alberta Justice investigator that had enough to shut down the SCS for illegal activity but was told to cease and desist when he was going to move on it . . . too many questions that need answers, with no evidence yet . . . Sorry, but if the LPS can’t shut down the illegal tent popping up, can we really expect a proper and effective investigation in this . . . LPS has had leadership problems for years and I have my concerns. The boots on the ground have tried hard to do their jobs, but they must follow the commands from the administration . . . I believe an outside, independent agency would help in this!
The $1.6 million is nothing in this case . . . how many lives were lost due to this? Many of us witnessed people wanting treatment and being told to come back for the referral interview in a few days . . . Addicts need immediate assistance when they make that choice! The cost for it was over $15 million for 2 years and that didn’t include the millions from other costs to counter the impacts to the community.
The police budget was increased millions, Fire/EMS saw increased responses, more over-time and burn out, increased maintenance costs and supply costs, the Watch program costing over a million per year, the Diversion Outreach Team and many more programs including the high costs of the extra shelter at LSCO and leasing the Motel on Mayor Magrath for isolation of addicts when sick . . . As a guess, this mad experiment that has proven to be a complete failure in BC after billions blown and thousand of lives lost, cost the taxpayers $25-$30 million in just a couple of years, with increases in the numbers of addicts and fatal overdoses . . . if that money would have been put into effective treatment programs, proven in the US instead of bonehead ideas from Europe, more lives would have been saved and less crime would have been seen on our streets!
Is Jill Manning running from the investigation, or is she truly fearful? Will we know?