Thompson-Nicola Regional District board Chair Ken Gillis released the following statement today (March 1, 2021) during a media conference on TNRD expenses.
Good morning and thank you for being here today.
I’m here to address the questions and concerns you may have about the recent news reports about the credit card expenses of the TNRD’s former CAO, Sukh Gill, who departed from the organization just over a year ago. This statement will be provided to each of you today.
On behalf of myself and the entire Board of Directors, I am here to say that we take full ownership and accountability for the lack of financial oversight on this matter.
Being responsible and accountable to the residents and taxpayers of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District is our first priority.
We began making changes back in August 2019, as the new Board of Directors started to review and address our policies and procedures.
Some of these steps include:
- CAO expenses must now be reviewed and signed off by the Chair or Vice Chair
- An amended hospitality policy has been put in place
- A new Disclosure (“Whistleblower”) Policy provides employees with a safe and confidential avenue for reporting any concernsThese are undoubtedly first steps; we will continue to make further necessary changes to ensure full oversight and accountability, to ensure such a situation never arises again.
Our commitment, as we move forward, is transparency. That is part of our responsibility to the residents of the TNRD. We must not only be transparent; we must be seen to be transparent. That is why I am strongly recommending that the TNRD engage a third party, to do a fulsome independent review of past expenses and expenditures and that the findings be made public. This recommendation will be going to the Board in March.
Essential to this transparency is open communication with the public and the media about issues when they arise. Over the last 12 months, TNRD staff have responded as fully as legally possible to more than 30 information requests from the media, and have done so in a timely manner and without fees. No information has been withheld with the exception of information which the TNRD is not permitted to disclose under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The TNRD Board, our new CAO, and senior staff are acutely aware of the need for increased accountability, transparency, and communication. We have made strong and meaningful changes, with more to come, as part of our effort to regain the trust and confidence of the people we are honoured to represent.
We can assure you that with recent changes in our leadership, the management and administration of the TNRD is in excellent hands with the team of senior staff we now have in place, and that financial accountability is a priority for them. We also know that the staff of the TNRD are second to none. This situation certainly does not directly reflect on them and the great work they do, and I would like to thank them for their continued support and dedication.
We have to do better. We will do better. That is why we want the residents of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to be assured that accountability, transparency, and communication are what you can expect from us as we work to rebuild your trust. This work will be our top priority in the coming weeks and months, as we forge a new path forward.
I will be happy to take your questions.