Kids of MANFF officials paid for mileage, overtime
MANFF says situation rectified, but feds investigate expenses
The agency in charge of disbursing federal money to 2011 flood evacuees paid thousands of dollars in overtime and mileage expenses — in some cases, to a senior official or the children of senior officials, CBC News has learned.
More details are coming to light about where the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters (MANFF) has spent more than $78 million reimbursed to them by the province of Manitoba.
The additional details are prompting Aboriginal and Northern Development Affairs Canada to call a special investigation.
CBC News previously reported that the association still owes millions to the Misty Lake Lodge and other hotels for housing 2011 flood evacuees.
MANFF also paid more than a million dollars to Mona Lisa Ristorante for late night snacks in an eight-month period — almost $60 per day, per person, in ineligible food costs that the federal government is refusing to reimburse the province for.
Documents obtained by CBC News show that the children of senior MANFF officials were charging and approved for many hours of overtime, in one case 40 hours in one week.
CBC News sent the documents to MANFF requesting comment. They sent a statement Tuesday night that they say "sufficiently addresses the questions from the documents you have sent us."
Ted Ducharme, a former community liaison worker at MANFF, and others, said that the overtime occurred in a period in which no overtime was warranted.
Branden Gregorchuk, the son of MANFF CFO Perry Gregorchuk, charged 44 hours of overtime to input data in October and November of 2012.
According to the documents obtained by CBC, he was also paid twice for Remembrance Day.
However, CBC received a statement from a representative of the Gregorchuk family that states Branden was actually paid for another stat holiday recognized by MANFF called Aboriginal Veterans Day and not twice for Remembrance Day.
Ducharme also noted Branden Gregorchuk was a student at Saint Boniface University at the time.
"They’re also signing off this kid’s federal funds when we know he's a full time student." Ducharme said.
Neither Branden Gregorchuk nor Perry Gregorchuk granted an interview with CBC News despite requests.
A statement sent to CBC News from MANFF says that Branden’s overtime was the result of his accumulation of monthly hours being transposed onto a single timesheet, and that the situation was rectified the following month by his submission of weekly sheets.
Father signed son's overtime sheet
The documents also detail overtime charged by MANFF’s emergency operations officer Derek Bushie.
One direct deposit slip shows 96.5 overtime hours were paid to him in a two-week period.
That’s equivalent to almost $2,800.
Bushie claimed the overtime hours for trips from Winnipeg to Gimli to check on evacuees housed at Misty Lake Lodge.
But Retha Dykes, Misty Lake’s general manager, said that makes no sense.
"If they have been here, it’s been one or two times in the last two years but they’re submitting expenses for coming here three or four times a week," she said in an interview with CBC News.
MANFF said in a statement that "Derek Bushie’s overtime was a summary payment for a month of submissions."
Bushie’s son Devon also submitted overtime as a Club Regent Hotel coordinator. One timesheet indicates an 80-hour work week.
His timesheet shows that he worked 40 hours overtime during one week in January 2013 and the timesheet is signed by his father.
The reason for the overtime stated on his timesheet is to hand out meal tickets and supplies at the hotel but that "no one showed for the evening."
CBC has documentation that shows Devon Bushie was paid for the hours he charged.
CBC requested an interview with Devon and Derek Bushie through MANFF communications and on social media but those requests have not been granted.
Ducharme said that the overtime hours were approved by management.
"They would be collecting overtime hours as their dads would be walking around. The CFO, he approved of it," Ducharme said.
MANFF said in a statement that the flood business was under the strict leadership of Derek Bushie and that the CFO’s signature was not on the documents.
Overtime was not the only concern Ducharme raised.
Mileage reports submitted by North Eagles Calling Smith, son of CEO Daren Mini, and another MANFF employee, Adam Grabowski, show numerous pickups at "Saint Boniface."
One of the sheets has "Branden pick up" scratched out and "supply run" written in over it.
Ducharme and others said there were no supplies to pick up in Saint Boniface.
"The reason they would put that down is because the CEO's son was being paid to pick up the CFO’s son from school every day," Ducharme told CBC.
Attempts to reach North Eagles Calling Smith and Adam Grabowski through MANFF and on social media have been unsuccessful.
MANFF said that the travel claims for pick up from St. Boniface College were "previously addressed and rectified" and that Branden was the person authorized to pay for office supplies and needed to be present for them to occur.
A statement emailed to CBC Tuesday night from MANFF says that Ducharme was terminated with cause and "it is presently under an investigation and they cannot comment further."
When asked why he was coming forward, Ducharme told CBC that he was tired of the behavior he witnessed at MANFF.
"I can’t sleep at night. I wake up at 3 a.m. and pace the floors and think about all the evacuees crying. We have all these people who are lacking resources and we have the people who are in charge of the funds just blowing their resources," Ducharme said.
Aboriginal and Northern Development Affairs Canada (AANDC) recently called in special investigators to look into the allegations about the organization, but could not tell CBC when the report would be released.
AANDC Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office issued a statement by email saying, "These are serious allegations and any evidence to support them will be turned over to the police. We will not tolerate the abuse of tax dollars.
"That is why we have asked an independent investigator to look into the allegations and report back to us."