CNIB defends auditing process in wake of wrongful termination lawsuit

CNIB, the national charity for the visually impaired, says it has confidence in its auditing processes after a Nova Scotia lottery kiosk operator it accused of mishandling funds and fired filed a lawsuit this week against the organization.

Mike Perry was terminated Feb. 9 after operating CNIB's lotto kiosk at the New Minas Walmart for almost seven years. He was let go without notice under a clause in his contract related to "cash or product shortages, accounting irregularities, or other financial mismanagement."

Perry said he was told there was more than $9,000 missing, but is adamant he did nothing wrong and is not responsible for any shortages. 

His experience mirrors that of six other former CNIB kiosk operators who were accused of the same thing in 2015. They were sued by CNIB, but the charity withdrew the court actions and reached confidential agreements following CBC News inquiries.

Results shared with operators

CNIB, established nearly a century ago, operates lottery booths in stores across Atlantic Canada where it sells Atlantic Lottery Corp. products. The charity hires subcontractors to operate the booths as part of an arrangement with the lottery corporation.

In a written statement sent to CBC News late Tuesday, CNIB said it expects small variances in accounting at the kiosks because they are primarily a cash and debit business.

"Where variances are substantial, we engage contractors to review their records, identify the cause and rectify the issue," the statement said, adding that audit results, including all documentation, is shared with the contractor for review and feedback.

'Not five cents missing'

Perry said his feedback was that the audits were wrong. This week he filed a legal action against the charity in Nova Scotia Supreme Court that alleges termination without cause, public humiliation and mental stress.

"I do know in my heart there was not five cents missing," he told CBC News. 

Perry said he was unable to review records because he didn't have access to all the information used in the audits. He said he started asking via email for hard copies of the audits in October 2016, shortly after he was told there was a shortage. He said he was given that information just before he was terminated, but it was impossible to decipher.

"It was [pages of] your normal printing paper, taped together that was about four feet wide and eight or nine feet long and it was all numbers," Perry said, adding he spent weeks trying to figure it out but was unable to do so.

'Confident in the rigour and results'

The CNIB statement said Perry was involved in the audit process and provided with "numerous opportunities" to participate.

The organization said it is "confident in the rigour and results of our audit process" applied to the kiosk in New Minas.

Atlantic Lottery Corp. said CNIB subcontracts the operation of its 17 lottery kiosks to individuals and it is their responsibility to manage that relationship.

It said it expects all of its retailers to operate with integrity, which is why it conducts regular testing, monitoring and reviews to ensure they comply. ALC said it hopes the situation "is resolved quickly and fairly."