CNIB Seeks Government Money, But Won’t Comment on Missing Funds

National charity has withdrawn all lawsuits and settled with kiosk operators By Yvonne Colbert
CBC News, Nov. 12, 2015

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind was at Province House today asking for more government funding for its therapy programs, but the non-profit is refusing to discuss the thousands of dollars it’s spent on legal action against former lottery kiosk operators.

CBC News reported earlier this year, the charity claimed in court documents that $100,000 had been misappropriated by several kiosk operators in Halifax, Truro, Bathurst and Summerside who ran lottery booths for the non-profit.

In each case, those operators denied doing anything wrong and suggested CNIB look internally for the missing funds. CNIB subsequently withdrew all legal action and reached settlements with those it had formerly accused of taking money.

CNIB’s head office in Toronto has repeatedly refused requests for an on-camera interview about the money it alleged was missing. It also refused to discuss terms of the settlements, which all contained confidentiality agreements prohibiting the former kiosk operators from speaking about them.

CNIB did issue statements to CBC, but never directly answered questions.

On Thursday, CNIB hosted a news conference to speak about provincial funding cuts to its vision rehabilitation programs.

However, CNIB’s Atlantic regional executive director, Pamela Gow-Boyd, refused to speak about the missing lottery money settlements.

Lottery program managed by Toronto

“Today this news conference is about vision rehabilitation therapy and the need for urgent adequate sustainable funding for vision rehabilitation therapy,” Gow-Boyd said.

“The lottery program is managed from our national office in Toronto and certainly at the end of this news conference, if you would like, I can connect you with someone who will speak to you about that.”

Earlier this year, Gow-Boyd wrote a letter to the editor of two P.E.I. newspapers that covered the kiosk controversy, outlining the charity’s position. At that time, Gow-Boyd said a forensic review had validated CNIB’s numbers, “which demonstrate significant losses in the Summerside lottery kiosk.”

The former kiosk operators were not interviewed as part of the review, which was not made public.

When asked why she would comment then and not now, Gow-Boyd repeated: “Today, we would like to focus on the need for adequate funding for essential rehabilitation.”

CBC followed up with Gow-Boyd, asking her to provide a contact in Toronto. CBC subsequently received an email saying the parties have resolved the matter and there would be no further comment.

Yvonne Colbert is a graduate of Ryerson University and has been a journalist in Nova Scotia for almost 35 years, covering everything from human interest stories to the legislature. She is known as a consumer advocate, always willing to go to bat for those who are being treated unfairly.

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