A Winnipeg man who tried for six years to have the mould removed from his Manitoba Housing unit finally received an apology from the province — but only after he finally alerted public health officials.
Scott Cadman, a single father of two boys, first noticed water streaming into his unit in the Marlene Street complex when he moved in seven years ago.
The water soon turned into large patches of mould, which eventually spread into his sons’ rooms.
"At first it looked like water damage; wet things every time it rained. Then it progressed into dark, black, really disgusting looking growths on the wall," he said.
Over the years Cadman filed numerous complaints with his caretaker, with Manitoba Housing and with his local MLA Nancy Allan. Nothing was ever done and Cadman says every year his unit passed inspection.
Eventually he learned mould can be dangerous, especially to young kids.
Following his complaints, Cadman’s caretaker recommended he call the Health Department and a provincial health inspector was sent out to assess the unit.
"[The health inspector] was in absolute awe that Manitoba Housing would let this happen for so long with so many complaints from myself," Cadman said.
"[The inspector] immediately ordered them to fix the structural damage in the home, to fix all the water damage in the home, to remove the mould, to regrade the outside walls properly. And they had a week to do it."
That week came and went without any action.
The inspector had to take the extraordinary measure of issuing a health hazard order — a measure given to health inspectors just a few years ago to make sure individuals and businesses comply with the Health Department’s decisions. If a company doesn't comply they can be fined up to a million dollars.
Although the work was eventually completed, Cadman says his unit still leaks and he’s afraid the mould will come back.
Manitoba Housing admits there were issues with how it handled Cadman’s case.
"In Mr. Cadman's case ... he certainly did fall through the cracks," said Darrell Jones, CEO of Manitoba Housing.
"I believe we've apologized to Mr. Cadman and his family and I would re-iterate that again."
Cadman says he received no such apology until after CBC News spoke with Manitoba Housing. Provincial officials were unable to explain the contradiction.
Spending for Manitoba Housing has been ramped up recently. A few years ago the province spent $20 to $24 million annually on repairs.
"Last year alone, we expended $100 million on maintaining and sustaining this very important asset to the province," Jones said.
'I don't want this to happen to any more families.' —Scott Cadman
Many of the Marlene Street tenants CBC News spoke with complained of similar problems but none would agree to be interviewed because they fear retribution.
Cadman said his concern for his family and neighbours prompted him to speak out.
"For this to happen to my family is heartbreaking to myself. This is why I'm coming forward. I don't want this to happen to any more families," he said.
"Obviously, Manitoba Housing knew there was mould in my dwelling, [and] that children were coming into this. Passing the unit [inspection]
, it just didn't sit right with me."
Cadman’s youngest son is being tested for breathing problems and Cadman remains frustrated with Manitoba Housing’s handling of the situation.
Manitoba Housing revisited Cadman’s unit last week after the interview CBC News.
Cadman says they have promised to address the remaining issues in the unit.