The Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has been put on probation for one year by the B.C. Division of the of the CMHA. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

The Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has been put on probation for one year by the B.C. Division of the of the CMHA. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Heath Association on probation

Misconduct by board, management among the complaints

The Cowichan Valley branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has been placed on probationary status for one year after an independent investigation.

A press release from the B.C. Division of the CMHA said the parent organization will oversee a plan aimed at improving accountability, transparency and service delivery at the Cowichan Valley branch.

The action comes after CMHA BC received a report from Joanna Gislason, a Victoria lawyer who conducted an investigation into three complaints about the Cowichan Valley branch received in late 2019.

The Cowichan Valley branch requested an external investigation which CMHA BC responded to immediately.

The first complaint alleged discriminatory and unfair treatment of a tenant, and the second complaint was made by a former board member and alleged unfair treatment and a failure to engage in a respectful resolution process.

The third complaint was broad in nature and expressed general concerns about mismanagement at the branch.

RELATED STORY: DUNCAN’S OVERDOSE PREVENTION SITE TO MOVE THIS FALL TO NEW WELLNESS CENTRE

But concerns that the Cowichan Valley branch is not spending funds appropriately or not accounting for spending properly were not substantiated by the investigation and the branch was compliant with accounting requirements, including completing an annual audit and posting its audited financial statements and annual report publicly on its website, according to the report.

“However, based upon the findings of the investigation, the branch can do more to actively communicate with funders and community stakeholders while developing processes to facilitate greater transparency,” the report said.

As part of her investigation, Gislason interviewed 28 witnesses and reviewed detailed records and information.

Her report goes on to identify a number of issues at the Cowichan Valley branch regarding governance, management, and operations within the branch’s housing programs.

The report presents a number of findings with recommendations to bring the branch into compliance with policies and CMHA values.

They include that the branch’s housing policies and practices undermined and interfered with a tenant’s security, the conduct of two staff members was inappropriate and interfered with a tenant’s security and the branch’s housing program would benefit from a thorough review and redesign.

“We have now completed the external investigation and we are fast-tracking solutions to ensure that the branch adequately responds to the problems identified in the findings,” said Jonny Morris, CEO of CMHA BC Division

“It is also important to emphasize the report also found that the branch provides incredibly important services, thanks to a group of skilled, compassionate, and hard-working staff. These recommendations will ensure that care reaches those who need it.”

RELATED STORY: KAMLOOPS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ON LEAVE AMID CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION PROBE

The press release said the CMHA’s provincial office is satisfied that current board members at the branch cooperated fully with the investigation and will take the next critical steps to respond to the investigation’s findings and recommendations.

During the year on probation, the provincial office of the CMHA will oversee the branch’s plan to implement all of the recommendations included in the investigation report.

A failure to satisfactorily implement the plan could result in the branch no longer being able to use the “Canadian Mental Health Association” name.

“Going forward, priority will be placed upon providing training related to board governance, cultural safety and humility, a review of all housing programming, dispute resolution, and ongoing transparency with all key accountability and operational documents,” the press release said.

“Further, the branch will review all of its policies related to its services to ensure that they do not conflict with provincial legislation. To improve the delivery of services to people across the province, the recommendations included in this report will be shared with CMHA branches across the province.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

mental health

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tom Lennox finds peace when he runs in the Cumberland Forest. He hasn’t missed a day in nearly a year. Photo supplied
Cumberland runner nears 366 consecutive days on the trails

Cumberland resident Tom Lennox has been running a minimum of five kilometres… Continue reading

Courtenay’s Ace Brewing Company’s Jet Fuel IPA was chosen for second place in the annual Canadian Brewing Awards. Photo submitted
Courtenay brewery takes silver medal at Canadian Brewing Awards

“It’s huge - they are the biggest awards in Canada that you can get (in the brewing industry).”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the legislature, Jan. 11, 2021. (B.C. government)
Vancouver Island smashes COVID-19 high: 47 new cases in a day

Blowing past previous records, Vancouver Island is not matching B.C.s downward trend

The Comox Strathcona Regional Hospital District board is concerned about having to fund more than just hospitals like the one in the Comox Valley. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Strathcona board worried over funding more than hospitals

Island Health points to seniors care to reduce demand at acute care sites

Environment Canada is forecasting snow for the east Vancouver Island region the weekend of Jan. 23. (Black Press file)
Up to 15 cm of snow forecast for Courtenay area this weekend

Snow to begin Saturday night, according to Environment Canada

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

40 Knots Winery recently completed a major project on their vineyard terrace by installing 360-degree glass panels for year-round use.
Comox winery aims for year-round experience with glass-surrounded terrace

40 Knots Winery recently completed a major project on their vineyard terrace

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

First We Eat: Food Security North of 60 is featured at the Feb. 5-13 World Community Film Festival. Photo supplied
First We Eat celebrates resourcefulness of Yukoners

First We Eat: Food Security North of 60 celebrates the ingenuity, resourcefulness… Continue reading

Most Read