The Yukon government will not be launching a forensic audit into Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services’ affairs after no criminal wrongdoing was found, said Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost on Oct. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Frost backtracks regarding Many Rivers’ financial affairs

The health and social services minister originally said that no criminal wrongdoing had been found

The Yukon government will not be launching a forensic audit into Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services’ affairs, according to Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost.

“The only time you can trigger a forensic audit and bring in the RCMP is when there’s criminal wrongdoing,” she said, following question period on Oct. 24. “The third party audit did not find criminal behaviour and, therefore, there wouldn’t be a forensic audit.”

She said a transfer payment made to Many Rivers was “mismanaged.”

Frost initially said the financial investigation was shared with the RCMP.

In a follow-up email to local media, however, she said the investigation hadn’t been shared with the RCMP.

In the same email she said the RCMP needed more information to launch a probe into wrongdoing.

Despite what Frost told the legislative assembly, she now says the third party review “did not reveal whether or not criminal behavior occurred given information gaps. However, it did alert Health and Social Services to practices and procedures within the organization that were of significant concern.”

Frost said legal options are being reviewed.

The transfer payment to the now defunct organization was for roughly $500,000.

“The last quarter, (Many Rivers) took the funding, but no services were delivered to Yukoners and that’s the question we have, as well, what did you do with the last quarter, how did you deliver services to Yukoners and, essentially, where’s the accountability, so of course that’s a big concern for us,” Frost said.

The transfer payment was provided before staff went on strike for roughly three months, following which Many Rivers closed its doors when staff returned.

Asked by reporters whether the funds are missing, Frost said, “I can’t answer that.”

Frost did say, however, that the society “couldn’t account for where the funds went.”

She wouldn’t say whether the financial investigation would be released. She said partners would have to be consulted first.

NDP Leader Kate White said when the Yukon government transferred the funds in question Many Rivers had already missed reporting periods.

“Where did $500,000 go in the short amount of time and shouldn’t that be a concern of government? The only way to find that out is through a forensic audit because it’s only through a forensic audit that the RCMP can proceed,” she said.

“It’s not for me to assert whether there was criminal wrongdoing, but what I can say is if the Yukon government called for a forensic audit, they would understand what had happened to that money. What does half a million dollars mean? It’s a substantial amount of money.”

The Yukon Party’s Scott Kent said he believes the Yukon government can still launch a forensic audit, despite the finding of no criminal wrongdoing.

“We would like to see something like that as well when it comes to Many Rivers so that we can respond with some level of knowledge to people in the community that are reaching out to us and asking questions about it.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

Correction: This story and headline have been updated to include additional details from Frost’s statement clarifying that the third party review did not reveal whether or not criminal behavior had occurred.

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