Report finds mismanagement, risk to public funds at BC Housing under former CEO

·2 min read

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is restricting new funding to a major non-profit housing provider after an independent review found mismanagement by a former top executive atthe province's housing corporation.

The forensic investigation by Ernst and Young says the probe uncovered "significant risks to public funds" and lack of government oversight at BC Housing, the Crown corporation that develops, manages and administers subsidized housing.

The report found mismanagement related to a conflict of interest between the former CEO, Shayne Ramsay, and his spouse, Janice Abbott, the CEO of Atira Women's Resource Society, BC Housing's largest housing operator.

While the review uncovered financial mismanagement, Premier David Eby told a news conference it did not find evidence that public money had been stolen.

The government received the report in March, but just released it today, saying it has already implemented several of the 20 recommendations aimed at improving financial oversight, preventing conflicts of interest and ensuring accountability.

In addition to restricting new funding, the province says it will physically inspect Atira-operated buildings and suspend the renewal of agreements with Atira until a review of the operator's financial transactions related to BC Housing is complete.

Eby says he knows the findings will likely cause anxiety among people in buildings run by Atira, but he assured those residents their housing is secure.

The report tabled in the B.C. legislature on Monday follows an earlier Ernst and Young probe released last June, a week before the province announced it had fired several members on the BC Housing board.

Eby, who was the minister responsible for housing at the time, said the government commissioned the review to ensure the Crown corporation could deliver on its mandate, given that the province has earmarked $7 billion in funding for affordable housing over 10 years.

Ramsay announced his retirement a few weeks later, saying he no longer had confidence he could solve the complex problems the corporation faced.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press