Misuse of cash: Saskatoon Lighthouse watched ‘very intently for a while,’ ministry says
The Ministry of Social Services has been monitoring Lighthouse Supported Living “very closely for some time” since members of the Lighthouse board informed the ministry of their concerns last summer, according to a ministry spokesperson.
“The ministry is continuing to work directly with Lighthouse, as we do with all community-based service providers, to ensure services provided under contract with the ministry to continue vulnerable clients, and that those services continue to meet the requirements of the contract,” Leya Moore said in an email to CTV News.
The ministry’s response comes after the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal lifted a publication ban on a court-ordered investigation into the Lighthouse’s finances, largely centered on executive director and board member Don Windels.
The investigation was sought by three Lighthouse board members after they became concerned by transactions uncovered during an internal audit.
The MNP report outlines how, according to Windels’ own admission to investigators, a series of loans were issued by the Lighthouse to his family’s corporation between 2008 and 2013 that added up to $287,000.
Although Windels is on leave, he remains the organization’s executive director until the Court of Appeal decides whether Justice David Gerecke’s decision last year to remove him will stand.
“As the case is before the courts, the Ministry of Social Services cannot comment on the specifics of the case,” Moore said in her statement.
The ministry maintains six-month contracts with the Lighthouse to provide services and supports to people in Saskatoon and area totaling $1.04 million, Moore said. The Lighthouse also receives additional funding from other sources, she said.
The Lighthouse also receives about $2 million each year from the Saskatchewan Health Authority to provide health services including mental health and addictions services, according to the health ministry.
SASKATOON MAYOR WANTS ‘ACCOUNTABILITY’
“The details that are coming out in the media today are concerning,” Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said in a statement.
“The Lighthouse provides very important services to a vulnerable population in our community. We are seeing an escalating crisis of mental health, addictions and homelessness within this vulnerable population and it is in the best interests of everyone involved and the community to ensure that a solid system of governance and accountability be established for this organization.”