Ottawa

Glebe daycare tightens spending rules after $200K disappears

An Ottawa daycare has introduced new financial controls and is pressing for criminal charges to be laid following the discovery that more than $200,000 disappeared from their operating funds

Daycare board wants police to pursue criminal charges against former financial co-ordinator

The daycare's board sued its former financial coordinator and won a civil judgment after more than $214,000 was taken from its accounts. (Judy Trinh/ CBC News)

An Ottawa daycare has introduced new financial controls and is pressing for criminal charges to be laid following the discovery that more than $200,000 disappeared from their operating funds

The alleged embezzlement at the Glebe Parents' Day Care went undetected because it occurred in small increments over the course of eight years, according to Monique Moreau, the chair of the board of the cooperative daycare.

The discovery was made while the centre's former financial co-ordinator went on sick leave in May 2016.

The first clue a month later was when an employee noticed the centre's credit card was used to purchase men's shirts, along with food for the daycare. The unauthorized charge led staff to look deeper into other transactions.

"Initially, these amounts were small and over time grew to be a bit more every year," Moreau said. But compared to the daycare's multi-million dollar budget, the amounts taken didn't stand out, she said.

Judge orders payment

Moreau says the board questioned the former financial employee about the discrepancy in funds but said they received unsatisfactory answers.

They hired a lawyer and an accounting firm. A forensic accountant reviewed the daycare's books from December 2008 to May 2016 and found $214,619 was missing.

This past August, a judge accepted the evidence the daycare's lawyers presented in court and ordered the former employee to pay back the funds and an additional $21,000 in legal costs.

The former employee didn't appear in court to defend himself. Moreau admits it's uncertain if he has the means to pay the money and the board isn't sure if it's a wise use of parent fees and taxpayer's dollars to try to recoup funds through the civil court.

She called the incident "a significant breach of trust."

"It was a shock to all of the daycare staff and parent volunteers who sit on the board," she said.

Tighter controls

As the daycare's lawyers tried to recoup the money through the courts, the co-operative daycare overhauled its financial controls.

Now the new treasurer needs to provide detailed monthly reports to the board. The daycare also got rid of its corporate credit card and mandated that reimbursement cheques must be signed by two staff members. The daycare also updated its insurance policy to protect against employee theft.

"Everyone is taking this quite seriously... those are some of the steps we have taken to make sure this doesn't happen again," she said.

Moreau sent an email to parents on Tuesday morning, informing them the daycare had successfully sued its former employee and was turning over forensic evidence to the Ottawa police.

The daycare is hoping the civil judgment will encourage police to investigate and lay criminal charges.

"It's important to parents and staff that he gets a criminal record so he's not allowed to work as a financial coordinator at another daycare or institution,"Moreau said.

Ottawa police would not say if they have launched an investigation.

CBC News was unable to reach the former employee for comment.

About the Author

Judy Trinh

CBC Reporter

Judy Trinh is a veteran journalist with CBC's The Fifth Estate. She covers a diverse range of stories from breaking crime news to the #MeToo movement to human rights court challenges. Judy aims to be both critical and compassionate in her reporting. Follow her on Twitter @judyatrinh Email: Judy.Trinh@cbc.ca

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