The largest homeless shelter in Moncton appointed new board members Monday after the New Brunswick government warned its funding could be at risk if it didn't act on recommendations of an audit that found management and financial problems.
House of Nazareth runs a shelter with more than 100 beds in downtown Moncton opened with provincial and federal funding in 2019. The province has spent $1.2 million on the shelter from July 2019 to December 2020.
The audit by the province's Office of the Controller at the request of the Department of Social Development followed complaints by neighbours, businesses and Moncton councillors about how the shelter operates and its effect on the surrounding area.
The audit, first reported by Acadie Nouvelle, led to 18 recommendations.
In an April letter to the board, deputy minister Eric Beaulieu said the recommendations address a "lack of rigor in the financial management of major renovation projects, inadequate staff policies, lack of internal financial controls, uneven monitoring of customer occupancy rates and performance indicators, inadequate management of assets and the lack of consistent human resource practices."
The full audit results have not been released and the province has refused to provide the information. Radio-Canada obtained a list of the recommendations. They include asking the board to:
Obtain adequate quotes and proposals for renovations and require detailed invoices and proof that the work was carried out in full to justify payments.
Ensure shelter assets are not stored at employee homes.
Establish effective policies to manage spending, payments and that necessary supporting documents are in place
Develop and implement policies for hiring, review evaluations and dismissals.
Ensure there's no conflict of interest between the executive director and members of the board.
Develop a plan to ensure the financial future of the organization and avoid it being dependent on government funding.
Establish a work plan for the executive director that includes goals and performance indicators.
The province told House of Nazareth to make changes within 30 days. A May letter called the organization's actions insufficient.
"If the board of directors is unable or unwilling to comply with the steps outlined above, the ministry will need to determine the viability of an ongoing partnership with your organization," Beaulieu wrote in the letter obtained by Radio-Canada.
The province set a June 1 deadline for House of Nazareth to hold its first annual general meeting in more than two years, fill five vacant board positions and implement the audit recommendations.
Eight of the 11 board members appointed at the meeting Monday are newcomers to the board.
Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch told reporters Tuesday that he's pleased to see the shelter start to take action.
"We've seen some response, we need to see more reaction," Fitch said.
It wasn't clear which of the recommendations have been implemented so far.
Staff member Zineb Elouad was named interim executive director during the meeting, replacing Jean Dubé.
Dubé announced earlier this year he would resign effective at the end of June. He then unsuccessfully ran for Dieppe city council. Dubé did not answer calls or a text seeking comment.
Dieppe Mayor Yvon Lapierre chaired the annual general meeting at the request of the board as a private citizen.
Several dozen members of the public attended, with several voicing concerns about the operation of the shelter and its impact on the area. However, Lapierre said that's a discussion for the future board.
"The purpose of this meeting is to get things back on track," Lapierre said.
"To do an autopsy of the past, that's not the reason we're here. I would expect the future board will want to do that and that would be my expectation as a citizen who contributes like most of you."
CBC News requested an interview with a House of Nazareth board member, but no interview was provided.