More scandal at RRC- Red River College review stings ex-president’s expense claims

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RobberAn extensive government review has revealed poor management and questionable spending practices at Red River College in Winnipeg. In particular, former president Stephanie Forsyth’s expense claims revealed “weaknesses in compliance and integrity,” according to the report, made public on Wednesday. Some of her claims were not approved by the colleges board of governors, some were not signed by her, and others were missing supporting documentation, the review found, noting Forsyth circumvented the board approval process for expenses by reviewing and authorizing some of her own expenses, which were claimed by other staff.

The review — taking aim at executive expense claims, contract management practices, financial reporting and human resource management practices at the college — was done after revelations Forsyth had filed expense claims for golf shoes, ballet tickets and other items. “It is quite concerning to see how the expense accounts had been used and, quite frankly, abused. It’s a misuse of public trust.” Education and Advanced Learning Minister Peter Bjornson told reporters.

Police investigating marble matter

In October, it was also reported that Forsyth installed some of the marble from the renovation of the Union Bank Tower into her private home. On Wednesday, Red River College officials said they have forwarded that matter to the police. “As of yesterday, the board made the decision to engage Winnipeg Police to undertake a review of the allegations,” Lloyd Schreyer, chair of the RRC board of governors, stated in a news release. “The board looked into this to the best of its ability but determined we do not possess the necessary legal tools to adequately conclude the investigation. The board will await the results. “At this juncture, it is not appropriate to discuss this further until the review is complete and conclusive.” The board is still in the process of searching for a new president but Wednesday’s report will ensure better internal controls when that person takes over. “The last four years does not accurately reflect the 76-year history of this college,” Schreyer told reporters. “In the course of human life and human endeavour, you are going to find people from time to time that stretch the limits.” Some Red River students in Winnipeg told CBC News they hope for more administrative transparency in light of the report. “I’m just glad that not even the president is immune to investigation,” Tyago Furtado, a graphic design student, said Wednesday evening. “It was one bad egg, I guess,” said Erin Debooy, a creative communications student.

Meals, entertainment and a trip to France

The review of Forsyth’s expense claims covered the period of September 2010 to April 2014, during which time she claimed $14,047 in meals and entertainment. Out of 52 meal claims, 42 did not include a list of attendees or any detail of the topic discussed during the meal. That includes $514 of food and beverages for five events hosted at the president’s home, where the specific business purpose was not documented, the report states. The review also found Forsyth and two other staff visited France — at a cost of more than $11,500 — in an effort to have the college join a European culinary association. The review says RRC is the only Canadian member of the institution and it’s not clear why membership and the trip were deemed necessary. As well, college officials expensed more than $2,200 for restaurant meals on three consecutive nights when they were interviewing candidates for an executive position, the report states. The provincial government says Red River College is still trying to recover money that was inappropriately spent by Forsyth. It’s still not clear how much public money was mismanaged.

Staff departures

The report also noted personnel issues under Forsyth’s watch. During the review period, 16 “executive/excluded” staff members — vice-presidents, senior management, and administrative assistants — left RRC. Of those, eight were mutual separations of employment (terminations with severance packages) that cost the college more than $639,000.

There were also six retirements, one resignation and one person whose contract ended. In the five years prior to Forsyth being hired, there was just one mutual separation of employment for a staff member in an executive/excluded position.

Union Bank Tower

The review also found poor management of the multi-million-dollar renovation to the Union Bank Tower, which RRC converted into the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute — a ​culinary school, restaurant and student residence. The cost of the project went from $22.5 million to $37.5 million and the opening date of September 2011 was delayed to January 2013. “Government expects individuals entrusted with public funds to be responsible stewards of those funds. Any misuse of those resources constitutes a betrayal of the public trust,” Bjornson stated in a press release​. “When allegations regarding the former president of the college were brought to the department’s attention, we took decisive action and requested a full review of its financial and human resource practices.” The report makes 45 recommendations, which Bjornson said RRC has accepted, to improve policies and procedures to ensure appropriate spending and financial oversight. Bjornson has requested a progress report from RRC on the implementation of the review’s recommendations by the end of the current fiscal year. “Red River College is critical to the economic well-being of our province and provides crucial skills training and education to Manitobans,” he said. “Our government is committed to supporting the college so it can continue to be part of a strong post-secondary education system.”


Statement from Red River College

Today, Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning released its report detailing a review of specific financial and human resource practices at Red River College for the period of September 2010 to May 2014. Red River College accepts the findings and recommendations contained in the report, and the College has been taking action to improve the financial, human resources and contracting processes at the College. “It’s important to highlight that this report is not a reflection of the College as a whole,” said David Rew, Interim President, Red River College. “Red River College has proudly and effectively served its students and the Province of Manitoba for more than 76 years. Red River College continues to be an excellent school and is focused on continuing to drive Manitoba’s economy and creating skilled graduates.” Red River College will work in partnership with the Province to ensure that, by the end of the College’s fiscal year, June 30, 2015 all of the recommendations in the report will be addressed. “We will address our challenges and continue to be accountable to staff, students and public,” said Lloyd Schreyer, Chair, Red River College Board of Governors.  “Our stakeholders expect the best from us and we intend to deliver. From now until the end of the fiscal year we will align our work to ensure all of the recommendations are addressed and reported on by June 30, 2015. Red River College extends its sincere appreciation to the many College employees who cooperated with the Province throughout this review process, and thanks them for their professionalism, openness, and integrity.

Reference CBC

Related:

Cases of discrimination against students with disabilities in the Medical Radiologic Technology program at Red Robber College- Winnipeg

The Status of Racism and Discrimination at Red Robber College (Medical Radiologic Technology)- Winnipeg

RRC president Stephanie Forsyth billed $78K in expenses

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43 thoughts on “More scandal at RRC- Red River College review stings ex-president’s expense claims

    […] More scandal at RRC- Red River College review stings ex-president’s expense claims […]

    […] More scandal at RRC- Red River College review stings ex-president’s expense claims […]

    Adam Smith said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    There is discrimination and racism on medical radiology,This is just one example of the mess that RRC is in. When an institution is struggling so much, the Province must step in and find immediate ways of changing things.

    smileU said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:22 pm

    I still want someone to tell me why RRC has Winnipeg Jets tickets – and while you’re digging up that answer, maybe you can also tell me why Manitoba Crown Corporations are major sponsors of the Winnipeg Jets and MTS Centre.

    That is taxpayer money and not meant to be spent on frivolous professional sports teams.

      smileU said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:22 pm

      “Frivolous” professional sports teams? You didn’t play much as a kid, did you?

      smileU said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      Comrade Selinger lied, he said there would be NO government support given to the Winnipeg Jets.

      As an aside, I probably played to a higher level of hockey that you did.

    DarenJorgenson said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Why has there been no criminal charges for the theft of the marble from the RRC ? How will society deter white collar crime if it does not consistently prosecute white collar crime ?

      goldenboil said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      @DarenJorgenson
      Because friends in high places.

      DarenJorgenson said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      @goldenboil – then we should do a private prosecution

    Phillip said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    the Board of Governor’s Chair was/is a political hack appointed by Comrade Selinger.

      Adam Smith said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      @Phillip Sorry to correct you, but it is Comrade Stalinger.

    Simonkung said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Sadly, Red River College financial reporting is far more on the up and up than that of the Downtown WInnipeg BIZ. Red River College is still fulfilling their role as an educational institution despite the ex-president’s spending habits and the poor board management.

      RealityHurtz said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:17 pm

      @Simonkung
      That doesn’t make this better, she should be charged with theft over 5,000. How long do we keep msking excuses for these freeloaders? There’s your corporate welfare and it has to stop.

    cprtrain said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Charge her with corruption and get this over.

      Razz-A-Mataz said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:16 pm

      @cprtrain … Only one problem with that is, she was one of Selinger`s buddies … which is the reason that she was getting away with it until recently.

    toadally said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    If the marble from a college construction project was installed in her home and she didn’t pay for it, then she is guilty of theft and she might go to prison.

      DarenJorgenson said:
      January 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

      @toadally – that is what should happen but unfortunately I doubt the Police will charge her but there is always the option for us to “crowd fund” a private prosecution.

    scsparcrow said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I would suggest if it is found the marble was paid with school funds (or construction company which built the costs into their bill which is a way around the rules) then the RCMP should go into her home with a warrant and rip the marble off her floors or walls and leave as is.

    Cdn Taxpay'r said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    Reminds me of the University of Alberta president who had the university buy her home for a $930,000 and still keep her job bagging a ridiculous salary.

    Razz-A-Mataz said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I can hear the leg shakles rattling already !

    hemigod said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I just wonder, who and how the marble was moved, must be an accomplice here!

    RealityHurtz said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people? How civil servants payed by taxpayers continue to steal outrageously is beyond reprehensible. Do we even need to question why child poverty has risen in Manitoba in the past 15 years? The amount of all this theft and corruption would have fed, housed and clothed every underprivileged person in this province.

    wpgplumber said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    A full audit of RRC should be mandatory at this point.

    After spending a short bit of time upgrading there recently, I have serious concerns with the direction and integrity of this institution.

    yokelman said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    This women should be sitting in a prison cell for stealing money, this women is worse than a shoplifter.

    yokelman said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    The NDP will be booted out power next election, the NDP have become to friendly with civil servants.

    Razz-A-Mataz said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    My biggest concern here is … why did it take so long for RRC to call in the police to investigate this matter ?

    jokco said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    And just for the record this was another close friend of the NDP

    uThkUrBttrThnMe said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Has it been confirmed that police are investigating?

    Dik@Home said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Unless this is a time and material type of construction contract, there is likely very little anyone can do about it. Surplus material is likely owned by the Contractor and how he disposes of it is really his business… If he is going to send it to landfill, the college is likely going to pay for it… just saved the college some money… It is unlikely that she can be charged, unless there is something in the background that no one has mentioned.

    Razz-A-Mataz said:
    January 24, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Blackened is the end !
    @Dark … in the end !

    Comsepreken said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Don’t you just love it when women have control – we were always told the country needs more women as leaders, she must have taken lessons from the former Alberta leader !

    Karen said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Financial wrong doings are not the only mismanagement that Ms. Forsythe was up to. Her and Margo Goodhand (former editor Winnipeg Free press) did some scheming and back handing that ended up in Red River College losing its radio station.

    Desperado said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Two thoughts:
    Calling Nancy Allen, and
    maybe its time the College coughed up the 24k annual in Jets tickets….

    Razz-A-Mataz said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Misconduct and corruption at its finest … there needs to be an end to this type of practice in Canada !

    Mybrainurts said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    harge her with fraud and the Sammy’s next…

    Average 'Toban said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Yikes! Imagine how all that wasted money could have gone into student services. Those severance numbers are ridiculous.

    mesobroke said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Why does the government not review itself and admit they are just as bad or worse?

    Razz-A-Mataz said:
    January 24, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Things such as this within the City of Winnipeg affect EVERYONE if it would have been much worse.

      mesobroke said:
      January 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      @Comsepreken I see lots of male politicians doing the same thing – why make it a gender issue?

      Barley3 said:
      January 24, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      @Comsepreken
      So it’s ok when men do the same thing? How about the two that swindled a bank out of $200G (in another story)? That’s ok?

        LynnVSalton said:
        January 24, 2015 at 8:05 pm

        @Razz-A-Mataz
        Why did it take so long? It’s no secret that Forsythe showed well over a dozen upper-level managers the door. Anyone in a position to question her utter lack of ethics was removed in order to enable her ability to commit fraud. Those managers that stuck out their necks lost their heads. There were a few that managed to stay quiet and they worked through back channels to bring about this investigation… which was done quietly and thoroughly. However, the investigators couldn’t shake the tree without tipping-off one of Forsythe’s minions. Eventually, one of her sycophants in C-Building tipped her off about about the investigation, so she quickly packed her bags and skipped town. There’s more scandal to the story… a lot more.

        Razz-A-Mataz said:
        January 24, 2015 at 8:13 pm

        @scsparcrow … um … you forgot the part of the RCMP arresting her and taking her away in handcuffs.

    […] More scandal at RRC- Red River College review stings ex-president’s expense claims […]

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