Head of Osborne House says province wants her out

The head of Winnipeg's Osborne House says the province has asked the shelter's board to fire her, but members refused to carry it through.

The head of Winnipeg's Osborne House says the province has asked the shelter's board to fire her, but members refused to carry it through. 

The province summoned the board to a meeting late Friday after releasing two reviews criticizing the shelter. 

Osborne House CEO Barbara Judt says the province asked the shelter's board to fire her. (CBC)

Barbara Judt told CBC News her relationship with the province has soured after she supported the Conservatives in the last election.

"So I think what it is, we just don't sit back and let them push us around," said Judt. "Their behaviour here is complete thuggery and abuse and this just demonstrates the depths that they will go to, to try and discredit somebody," she said. 

"And so their latest thing now — the NDP government —  is to try and embarrass me publicly and say that I am placing women at risk and say I am not doing my job and I have failed as a leader," she added. 

The women's shelter's board received a letter from the Minister Jennifer Howard late Thursday requesting a meeting, but Howard said the province is not trying to push Judt out of her job. 

"I wasn't in the meeting with the board, but from what I've understood it wasn't something that was brought up at that meeting," Howard told CBC News Saturday. 

"We've had — in many ways a good working relationship with Ms. Judt," the minister continued. "Our interest now is  to sit down together and try to come up with an action plan to deal with some of the concerns that have been raised."

The province has given the shelter seven days to come up with a plan of action that would address what it calls serious issues and concerns. 

A letter obtained by CBC News references two recent reviews done by the province, which raise concerns about the quality of counselling, incomplete protection planning for residents leaving the shelter and a hostile work environment.

Judt calls the letter a smear campaign, full of inaccurate information. She said she thinks it's a reaction to a complaint she filed in August after Minister Eric Robinson used the line "do-good white people" in reference to an Osborne House fundraiser.

She admits there were problems with the shelter when she and the board took over, but said calls to the province asking for help over the past 12 months have gone unanswered. 

"I find it interesting that they're giving us a seven day deadline when we've been writing them for over a year now asking for help," said Judt. 

The province also scolds the shelter for failing to provide the province with child abuse registry checks and other documentation.

"We are addressing the issues within the agency here," said Judt. "All of the problems that we have at Osborne House existed long before we showed up here."

Howard said the province can't fund a shelter that is unsafe.


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