December 8, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
An organization that operates two personal care homes in Winnipeg has been given at least a temporary reprieve.
Bethania Group Personal Care Homes had faced a takeover by the province over a contract with its CEO, Ray Koop.
The Health Department demanded the contract be voided after Koop received a large lump-sum pre-retirement payment, retired and then was rehired -- all within a couple of days -- at virtually the same job with a salary increase.
The department determined that the new contract is illegal, violating a government-imposed executive salary freeze.
This afternoon, Bethania, in a statement distributed by its lawyer, said it has made a proposal to government which it believes will "satisfy all legitimate concerns."
"We are optimistic that a resolution may be reached in the near future," the statement said, noting that officials with both sides have discussed the proposal.
Health Minister Theresa Oswald said her department will take a few days to study Bethania’s offer. But she said she’s "encouraged" by it.
"Indeed, Bethania did meet the timeline in giving us a proposal of how they will endeavour to remedy the matter," Oswald told reporters at a news conference at CancerCare Manitoba in honour of National Oncology Nurses Day.
"What I have asked of them is that they terminate the illegal contract and that any monies paid out as a result of that illegal contract will be restored."
She said the department’s initial review of the proposal is that it "shows a lot of promise."
Koop was making $160,000 a year when he retired last July 31. He collected a pre-retirement package worth nearly half that salary on Aug. 1. The next day, he started on again with Bethania at a higher salary.
Bethania receives annual funding of $9.5 million to operate its two care homes, which have a total of 200 residents. The homes are located on Pembina Highway and Concordia Avenue.
The province issued its ultimatum to Bethania on March 21. The order was made following an audit in December.
The audit also raised concerns the two personal-care homes under Koop’s supervision contracted out $20,500 in services to Koop’s brother during a three-year period. And it noted that Koop’s expense claims and credit card expenses are approved by an underling and not Bethania’s board chair.