VANCOUVER (B.C.) May 15, 2020 – In response to an independent investigation into its Cowichan Valley Branch, the BC Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA BC) is putting the Branch into probationary status and will oversee a plan aimed at improving accountability, transparency and service delivery.
“Our ongoing priority is to ensure that people in all parts of the province have access to quality mental health and substance use services, including harm reduction services, when and where they need them,” says Jonny Morris, Chief Executive Officer, CMHA BC Division.
This action comes after CMHA BC received a report from Joanna Gislason, a Victoria lawyer who conducted an investigation into three complaints about the Cowichan Valley Branch received in late 2019.
Two of the complaints related to alleged misconduct by members of the branch’s management staff and the board of directors. The third complaint was broad in nature and expressed general concerns about mismanagement at the branch. The CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch requested an external investigation which CMHA BC responded to immediately.
As part of her investigation, Gislason interviewed 28 witnesses and reviewed detailed records and information. Her report identifies a number of issues at CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch regarding governance, management, and operations within the Branch’s housing programs. The report presents a number of recommendations to bring the Branch into compliance with policies and CMHA values.
“We have now completed the external investigation and we are fast-tracking solutions to ensure that the Branch adequately responds to the problems identified in the findings. It is also important to emphasize the report also found that the Branch provides incredibly important services thanks to a group of skilled, compassionate, and hard-working staff. These recommendations will ensure that care reaches those who need it.”
The CMHA Cowichan Valley Branch is being put into a probationary status for a period of one-year, during which time the Provincial office will oversee the Branch’s plan to implement all of the recommendations included in the investigation report. A failure to satisfactorily implement the plan could result in the Branch no longer being able to use the “Canadian Mental Health Association” name.
Going forward, priority will be placed upon providing training related to Board governance, cultural safety and humility, a review of all housing programming, dispute resolution, and ongoing transparency with all key accountability and operational documents. Further, the Branch will review all of its policies related to its services to ensure that they do not conflict with provincial legislation. To improve the delivery of services to people across the province, the recommendations included in this report will be shared and required from CMHA branches across the Federation. Read the public version of the report.
CMHA BC Division is satisfied that current Board members cooperated fully with the investigation and will take the next critical steps to respond to the investigation’s findings and recommendations.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
External Relations Specialist, CMHA BC Division