IWK chair has many questions after expense scandal but says board now acting 'definitively'

The chairperson of the IWK Health Centre’s board said revelations the CFO and former CEO worked to prepare inaccurate expense reports leads her and other board members to wonder what else might have been happening.

Opposition leaders say this isn't the 'standard of integrity' the public deserves

IWK Health Centre board chairperson Karen Hutt says the latest revelations related to the hospital expense scandal are concerning. (CBC)

The chairperson of the IWK Health Centre's board said revelations the CFO and former CEO worked to prepare inaccurate expense reports leads her and other board members to wonder what else might have been happening.

Karen Hutt said it is concerning that now-former CEO Tracy Kitch and CFO Stephen D'Arcy attempted to downplay Kitch's expenses before they were publicly released. A CBC News investigation also showed D'Arcy withheld hundreds of emails that were supposed to be disclosed in response to a freedom of information request.

Hutt said the board continues to act "very quickly and very definitively" as it tries to get its house in order.

Looking at all operational aspects

She said reviewing the CEO expenses in concert with a report by Grant Thornton allowed the board to make decisions and definitively move ahead on that issue.

"We're now at a place where we're asking the question of the broader controls: how could this happen over a sustained period of time and how were those controls being managed and when these kind of things were occurring, why wasn't the communication going up the chain the way it should have been," she said in an interview Monday.

Former IWK CEO Tracy Kitch still owes the hospital almost $10,000 for personal expenses she billed the hospital. (Career Women Interaction)

Hutt said that's why D'Arcy was asked to step aside on paid leave — to allow the board to get an objective, full set of facts. Once they have those, she said, the board will be in a position to act.

Premier calls for openness

Meanwhile, political leaders in the province are voicing their own concerns.

Premier Stephen McNeil used his strongest language to date in discussing the issue, calling on the IWK to make all information available to auditors and the public as it gets to the bottom of the situation.

IWK Health Centre chief financial officer Stephen D'Arcy is on paid leave until the hospital's board finishes a review of its governance structure and financial accountability. (CBC)

"The strength of this institution is the confidence the public have in it, from delivering child care to women's health. It is critical that this institution's reputation be held and it's more important, in my view, that the institution's reputation get held than it is those who were associated with it."

McNeil said his government would continue to monitor the situation to see what needs to happen.

'We need real leadership'

But opposition leaders said it's already time for the government to get more directly involved.

"That IWK is a gem for our province and its reputation needs to be restored and that can only happen when the government actively takes over," said Tory Leader Jamie Baillie.

Baillie said he knows the auditor general is considering a deeper look, but he said the situation cannot wait for Michael Pickup's decision, which is expected in early October.

"If we can't rely on senior officials to be truthful in their public disclosures, then we need real leadership now from the government."

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the situation is "not the standard of integrity that we have a right to expect."

He'd called for more "hands-on attention" from Health Minister Randy Delorey.

"We need to see evidence that the minister of health and wellness has this matter in hand and is prepared to make the decisions that are required to restore the public's confidence."

Kitch resigned last month.

About the Author

Michael Gorman


Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia who covers Province House, rural communities, and everything in between. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

With files from Jean Laroche