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Yukon NDP calls for forensic audit of now-defunct Many Rivers

NDP MLA Liz Hanson says it's time for the Yukon government to get serious about possible irregularities and missing funds at the now-defunct Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services.

MLA Liz Hanson asks what happened to gov't money given to now-defunct organization

The now-shuttered office of Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services in Whitehorse. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Yukon's NDP says it's time for the territorial government to get serious about questionable finances at the now-defunct Many Rivers Counselling and Support Services.

"It's time for this government to be accountable, and to proceed with a forensic audit covering the last two years of Many Rivers," said NDP MLA Liz Hanson in the legislature on Wednesday.

The non-profit shut its doors this year, after a long period of turmoil. The last year saw an 11-week strike, a roiling dispute over board membership, an investigation by the territory's Registrar of Societies, questions over the organization's finances, and ultimately the loss of its government contract.

In August, members of a newly-formed board of Many Rivers all resigned.

The question is where did that money go?- NDP MLA Liz Hanson

Hanson said there are still a lot of questions, and a forensic audit is needed. A forensic audit is designed to identify and gather any evidence of irregularities, misappropriation of funds, or fraud. 

"This government issued quarterly funding to Many Rivers in September 2018, presumably around a half million dollars. After the months-long strike closed offices and no staffing, the society closed its doors. The question is where did that money go?" Hanson asked.

'A financial investigation is very different from a forensic audit,' said NDP MLA Liz Hanson. (Nelly Alberola/Radio-Canada)

'Still assessing' information: Minister

Social Services Minister Pauline Frost agreed there were "serious concerns," and said the government had done its "due diligence."

"We've worked with the Department of Justice, and Community Services, along with the board and their financial advisor to look at the context of their financial management systems, and at this point we're still assessing that information," Frost said.

"At this point, I am satisfied with where we are and we will ensure that we don't run into this situation again."

Hanson suggested that wasn't enough.

"A financial investigation is very different from a forensic audit," she said.

"It was this government that issued a cheque to Many Rivers in September of 2018, when the society was already out of compliance according to the registrar, an annual meeting had not occurred, and no financial reports or audits provided to the registrar — any one of these was surely a red flag."

The Many Rivers office in Whitehorse is now shuttered. An eviction notice dated Oct. 10 is posted on the door, saying the Many Rivers Society owes $25,101.44 in unpaid rent.

"As you have failed to pay this sum ... the Landlord hereby terminates the lease effective 30 days from the date of giving this notice," it states. 

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