(Vancouver, BC) The Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) sent a press release with the tag line “MNBC Leadership Takes ACTION” and report entitled “MNBC Deficit Recovery Plan FIRST QUARTER REPORT April 1st – June 30th, 2011” yesterday. At first glance the MNBC press release and report appear productive. However after careful review it appears MNBC once again falls far short of meeting immediate debt recovery needs of MNBC. It is important to note the MNBC report is already outdated as it is released in September, almost 2.5 months late.
In February 2011, almost 7 months ago, BCMF (formerly known as the CCMC) presented the final version of a Blueprint Document and MNBC Debt Recovery Action Plan Year One that was hoped would be reviewed carefully by the sitting members of the Métis Nation Governing Assembly (MNGA), including all MNBC board members, as a reasonable solution to address the financial challenges at the MNBC at that time. One of the key elements of the proposed BCMF debt strategy for MNBC was to remove the board salaries. The BCMF drafted documents were road blocked during the MNGA led by the MNBC directors and their supporters. Since February 2011 BCMF has become more critical of MNBC leadership based on numerous broken promises, inability to address governance issues, the lack of tangible progress of MNBC debt recovery and many other issues. The MNBC documents released yesterday are once again ambiguous and without clear action and continue to reinforce the calls for current MNBC leaders to immediately resign and governments to undertake a forensic audit of all operations of the MNBC.
BCMF President Keith Henry stated; “At first I thought MNBC leaders finally admit one of our key recommendations last February was correct, that being the removal of all MNBC board salaries given the MNBC financial crisis. However to my surprise MNBC leaders have decided instead to phase out the salaries knowing full well the MNBC cannot sustain these costs already. The BCMF plan last February called for an immediate reduction as of April 1st, 2011. The so called MNBC action is a gradual phase out of wages only by April 1st, 2012. More shocking was the need to not phase out MNBC President Dumont’s wage, only a small reduction. He is the CEO who continues to manage MNBC further and further into debt proven once again by their report released yesterday as MNBC realized an overall loss of operational costs of $19,233.00 in the first three months of this new fiscal year.”
BCMF President Henry added; “There is absolutely no mention of current or future community support anywhere in these MNBC document. Once again MNBC is strategically trying to convince people that what they have done and are currently doing, despite financial losses, is okay. In contrast the chartered communities, BCMF leaders, and many community members volunteer their work to do what is best for our culture and community each day. Therefore why should MNBC leaders who have failed for three consecutive years not take immediate steps and remove their salaries? Did governments force MNBC to make this step? It certainly is not mentioned as part of the original MNBC Debt Recovery Plan released in May.”
BCMF President Henry added; “This is all timed strategically as MNBC has their Annual General Meeting in two weeks and they will be sure to act like they are doing all Métis people of BC a favor by their personal sacrifice. The MNBC board has never sacrificed and has less than a year left in the current term with the next MNBC General Election scheduled for September 2012. I guess this will be their final gift to the next MNBC board members; we made sure we were paid during our time, we mismanaged MNBC, left future leaders a massive debt, and hopefully we will be thanked. This is a particular point I have tried to state for two years and it is not fair that those that are responsible will leave this mess for future MNBC board members and hurt programs for our people. If they cared about the Métis people and communities they would be sure to sacrifice first but as we see they have not. ”
BCMF President Keith Henry continued; “The MNBC deficit report is playing tricks with words. For example, on page 1 MNBC President Bruce Dumont states the Métis Skills and Education Center makes a profit $69,561.62 in the first quarter. How are the profits calculated and where are the audited financial statements for 2010-2011 that have yet to be released by the MNBC? If there was actually a profit then how come MNBC did not use to pay the outstanding property taxes for the Métis Skills and Education Center as we have investigated and confirm that property taxes remain outstanding today? Another example is on Page 2 with MNBC Treasurer Bob Trumbley. He confirms that MNBC continued to realize an operational debt of $19,233.00 in the first quarter. He attempts to justify the reduced loss by using their mismanagement last year as the loss in the first quarter was larger last year. The bottom line is that he confirms MNBC is still realizing increased debt already in this new year of 2011-2012.”
BCMF President Henry added; “I also found the claims on page 6 quite interesting. We just completed a comprehensive review of the MNBC 2010-2011 Financial Statements and the methodology of how MNBC calculated these latest figures in this report does not seem accurate. For example, the report suggests that board/staff travel was only $16,544 in the first quarter in 2010-2011. However, according to Schedule 1 of their 2010-2011 MNBC Financial Statements the board and staff travel averaged $38,613.50 per quarter. In addition MNBC also reallocated major travel costs to separate program budgets listed in Schedules 1 – 68 and spent a total of $965,307 in 2010-2011, an average of $241,326 per quarter. I can see this with almost every line MNBC is now presenting in their new report on debt recovery whether it is their purported expenses for audit/professional/legal, etc. Therefore Métis people are once again only receiving part of the MNBC financial spending picture. How much of these costs are being expenses directly to programs during this same time frame?”
BCMF President Henry further added; “The report insults Métis people’s intelligence. I took great exception to the line on Page 8, Board/Staff Travel that states:
First Quarter travel costs continued to exceed zero based budgets. This was due to the increased work required to implement and monitor the DRP…
MNBC appears to have lost any sense of proper management and this line makes no sense. I guess we are all supposed to believe MNBC must spend money to save money?”
BCMF President Henry concluded that; “This is nothing more than pushing paper I assume for government funding partners and to placate Métis people with a false sense of hope and defense for MNBC board members in light of the MNBC Annual General Meeting. MNBC leaders produce a polished document and press release that truly create more questions than answers. MNBC President Dumont suggests in one of his statements that the recent MNBC board decision to reduce salaries is their way of showing action. Again BCMF identified this need for action to MNBC that should have been implemented April 1st and what are the costs to the future of MNBC for inaction since April 1st? Another startling revelation is the fact that the figure MNBC identifies as current board wages and MERC is $554,841.33 on page 7. However, according to their MNBC 2010-2011 Financial Statements just released it appears MNBC board remuneration is far less than this new figure identified in this report. Where is MNBC charging these excess board remuneration costs in projects in previous fiscal years? The fact is this new MNBC debt recovery report is 2.5 months late and does not provide any concrete evidence to substantiate claims or ensure future MNBC leaders will be able to financially manage programs and services. There is no line item in the operating costs identified on page 6 regarding interest and financing charges. Remember this line item was an administrative expense of $133,648 in the MNBC 2010-2011 Financial Statements and would add over $30,000.00 in operational charges between April – June if applied properly. The fact is this new documentation is inaccurate, incompetently drafted, and clearly an effort to mislead Métis people. I call on Métis people to call on governments for immediate MNBC third party management, a full forensic audit of all projects and operational costs, demand the MNBC board to resign, immediately cut their pay, and furthermore implement an MNBC Debt Recovery Plan that actually meets debt recovery needs as provided last February by the BCMF. Given the lack of financial progress for MNBC debt recovery in this report, although flawed in terms of calculation, MNBC is on track for increased debt in 2011-2012 with absolutely no hopes of addressing sustainability.”
BC Métis Federation
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