Manor’s financial woes must not blind Islanders to residents’ welfare

To the Expositor:

I understand that any debt and deficit of Centennial Manor will eventually fall onto the property taxpayers of Manitoulin, myself being one of the intended victims. I therefore read with great interest that Centennial Manor in Little Current has a debt of over $1 million and a structural deficit. I remember that the board recently passed a three percent levy increase in line with inflation, the board said. There was no mention of their debt or deficit when this increase was recently announced. I therefore will be attending the Manor’s May 30 board meeting with some questions for the board and management of the Centennial Manor.

I may not be permitted to ask all my questions at the meeting, so perhaps others may want to ask one or more of these (or similar) questions, as follows:

1. Does the board agree that the public has a right to receive open, honest, and timely communication from the Manor’s board, as well as transparent and accountable management of the Manor? If not, please explain why not. If yes, have all of these duties been faithfully practiced by the Manor’s board?

2. Were the Manor’s contingent liabilities owed to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) reported on the Manor’s financial statements according to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles)? If not, why not?

3. Why is it, years after the fact, that MOHLTC is suddenly starting collections on these debts? Did something happen, or did MOHLTC suddenly become aware of some facts about the Manor that instigated this?

4. Operating in a deficit and having financial quicksand under foot can be distracting at best. Add to this the extra burden of plotting a future strategy for the Manor. All this might cause loss of focus on the current imperative: high quality, consistent care for the Manor’s current residents.

a. What is the board and Manor’s management doing to ensure the day-to-day care of current residents meets MOHLTC minimum requirements on a consistent basis?

b. Has there been worsening trends in the number, frequency, or severity of incident or non-compliances for the current residents through these difficult times of the last year or so?

5. When there are high debts and deficits, sometimes organizations cut back on the essentials, affecting the staff’s ability to do their job. These financial problems then cascade into creating other problems, such as staff turnover, unfilled positions, using agency staff to fill-in for missing staff, chronically operating short-staffed on shifts, absenteeism, excessive sickness, lateness, leaves of absences, stress leave, and similar symptoms.

a. Have any of these symptoms occurred with the Manor’s staff? If so, please explain fully.

b. If these staff issues currently exist at the Manor:

i. What is the board and Manor’s management doing to ensure these staffing issues do not spill over to sub-standard care for the Manor’s residents?

ii. What steps are the board and Manor’s management taking to support and protect the Manor’s residents and staff, so as to prevent or rapidly solve these issues?

6. A Task Force has been formed to investigate reports of systemic abuse and neglect in Ontario’s LTC facilities. Prof. John Carver is the world’s leading expert on boards and governance of not-for profit organizations, the Manor being one example. Prof. Carver states that it is the duty of all boards to ensure they fully understand what is occurring in their organization, and that their organization is in compliance with all requirements.

a. What is the Manor’s board doing to personally inspect, audit, and ensure on a first-hand basis that there is neither abuse nor neglect occurring at the Manor?

b. Does the board take the same measures and steps to gain first-hand knowledge about the Manor’s level of compliance to MOHLTC best practices and regulatory minimum requirements on a frequent basis? If not, why not?

7. There have been ongoing problems for many years in the managing of the Manor and/or the results achieved for the residents and staff. Paying $140,000 per year to Extendicare for the last three years as a consultant to assist the board doesn’t seem to have solved these issues.

a. If the Manor’s board and management are struggling with their responsibilities for the Manor’s 60 residents of today, is it wise to increase the number of residents and complexity of the Manor’s organization by your planned expansion?

b. Shouldn’t these expansion plans be delayed until the chronic, systemic management problems at the Manor are fully solved, and time has allowed better habits and practices to be ingrained by all?

Glenn Black

Providence Bay