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New report shows $1M in questionable expenses by former Cape Breton employment agency

By Steve MacArthur Jun 20, 2023 | 1:32 PM

A scathing report is questioning more than $1 million dollars in spending of tax payer dollars by a now dis-banded employment agency in Cape Breton.

The province’s auditor general is outlining financial mismanagement involving the former employment agency which operated six offices on the island.

Kim Adair said managers and staff working with the agency paid out bonuses and permitted kickbacks to high ranking executives among other things.

“You have certain managers and staff engaging in unethical and unprofessional behaviour, a board exercising poor governance, and a department that did not provide effective monitoring and oversight of Island Employment Association and it all led to an egregious mismanagement of public funds,” said Adair.

Their role was to help people find jobs, but it was shut down in 2021 and now those involved are being investigated by police in Cape Breton.

“It was a perfect storm of mismanagement, which appeared to be deliberate and systematic, and designed to benefit certain players at Island Employment,” says Adair.

The former agency employed about 30 people in Sydney, Chéticamp, Inverness and Port Hawkesbury.

As a result of the audit, the Auditor General recommends the Department conduct an immediate and comprehensive assessment of its Nova Scotia Works program.

“It’s crucial the department has proper oversight of the 16 other service providers that signed multi-year funding agreements that last year totaled more than $22 million,” she says.

Labour Minister Balser says reports findings show her department has “work to do”

Minister of Labor, Skills, and Immigration Jill Balser gave her reaction to the AG’s report during a media availability held Tuesday afternoon where she told reporters work has already begun within her department to implement the report’s recommendations.

“We are now requiring service providers to give us more detailed financial reports, periodic reviews of financial practices by external auditors, and other monitoring mechanisms,” Balser said.

Balser also said her department accepts the AG’s findings in full, and although at times in used harsh rhetoric she wants Nova Scotians to continue to trust these types of service providers. “As Nova Scotians hear about this misconduct of a few we must remember the vast majority of Nova Scotians that work with community-based non-profit organizations do good work,”.





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