Statement by Eugene E. Jones Jr. President and Chief Executive Officer

Summary:

Read the statement presented by Toronto Community Housing President and CEO Eugene Jones at the February 6, 2013 meeting of Toronto Community Housing’s board of directors.

Date:
February 6, 2013

Eight months ago, Toronto Community Housing's board hired me as President and CEO with a mandate to improve our performance and restore credibility with residents and the public. Since joining the company, I have spent hundreds of hours in our communities, talking to staff, residents, city councillors and other stakeholders. This has helped me learn how the company works and how we can make things better. 

What I have learned is that we have strong policies and processes, and many dedicated employees who work very hard every day to serve our residents and who want to do a good job. Staff need more clarity around roles and accountabilities, and residents want us to deliver services more consistently and effectively. We are working on that.

But I have also heard things from residents and staff that deeply disturb me: namely, that the company is wasting money. I have heard stories about repairs that had to be done over two or three times because of shoddy work; stories about small repairs that were never done until they became big expensive repairs; and stories about employees being careless or cutting corners, resulting in higher costs. These are just a few examples of many I have looked at.

And then, at the end of 2012, I received an anonymous tip about alleged improprieties and wrongdoing involving some staff and vendors who do repairs and maintenance for Toronto Community Housing. As President and CEO, I take these matters very seriously. Our residents and shareholder deserve full value for the dollars they give us through rents and subsidies. As a company we cannot turn our heads and look away.

So, I hired a third-party firm to conduct a review of our processes and practices for hiring vendors who do repairs for Toronto Community Housing, to determine whether we are delivering best value for our residents. Recently the firm briefed me on their findings thus far. They told me that there are possible improprieties by vendors and staff that warrant further investigation.

I immediately brought this to the board chair. He agreed with my recommendation that we should engage the third-party firm to conduct an independent review on the matters that were raised. That work will begin shortly.

The firm will do its work with the assistance of our chief internal auditor, chief financial officer, and their respective departments. The third-party firm will report to me by the second quarter of this year, and I will bring those findings to the board along with a management action plan that addresses any issues that are identified.

If the investigation finds evidence of wrongdoing, I will take action. Employees will face disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. We will also pursue civil action to recover money involved. And I have instructed the investigators that if there is sufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing, to prepare a Crown brief that can be turned over to the Toronto police.

We owe our residents this duty of care. We must assure our residents, as well as taxpayers and our shareholder, that Toronto Community Housing will protect each and every dollar we have, and expend funds correctly and only for their intended purpose.

And we owe it to our employees. Most of our staff work hard every day to serve our residents. They understand that the company cannot hold residents accountable if we don't hold ourselves accountable. I believe this vast majority of employees will welcome and support our investigations.

I invite any employee who may have information that will assist in our investigations to come forward. You will be protected against any retaliation through the whistleblower protection under our Fraud Prevention Directive.

Both staff and residents can report information directly to me by phone at 416-981-4050 or email at eugene.jonesjr@torontohousing.ca. People can also report information anonymously through the "Do What's Right" telephone hotline (1-877-993-6744) and website.

To the employees and residents who have already voiced their concerns, thank you for your courage and honesty. I assure you that I will do everything in my powers to fix any problems that are found and to uphold the highest standards of accountability and ethical behaviour at Toronto Community Housing.

-end-

Media Contact

Sinead Canavan  416-981-4346 or media@torontohousing.ca