Philanthropist rescinds $1 million donation from CAMH citing lack of transparency

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Philanthropist pulls $1 million donation to troubled mental health hospital
Why did a Canadian philanthropist who gifted $1 million to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health take it back? Allison Vuchnich reports – Sep 29, 2016

The Toronto-area Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has lost a $1 million donation after allegedly not being forthcoming with the wealthy philanthropist who made the donation, and exactly what the organization did with the money.

“I would say very, very, very disappointing,” Andrew Faas, the founder of The Faas Foundation, told Global News, about his withdrawal of the funds.

The Faas Foundation, an organization that aims to create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces, is led by Faas, who is a former executive with Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws. Faas gave $1 million to the CAMH Foundation to create a Well@Work program; an initiative designed to create healthier and more psychologically sound workplaces across Canada.

But the project didn’t quite work out as Faas hoped.

After he gave the first instalment of the donation – roughly $333,000 – Faas says CAMH wasn’t clear with where his money was spent.

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“I was getting basically gobbledygook answers…

“I was after accountability,” Faas explains. “…if there’s other information out there, give it to me because I want this to work.”

Global News reached out to CAMH requesting an interview to find out what happened to funds provided by the Faas Foundation.

CAMH declined to be interviewed but said in a written statement it has “a rigorous process of objective financial oversight” and in general communications with donors are confidential. The CAMH statement went on to say they provide donors “accountability reports, timelines and updates.”

“CAMH stands by the progress made in the first year of the Well@Work Program and will remain grateful to Mr. Faas for sharing in the original vision and plans.”

“We continue to work towards re-establishing Mr. Faas’ satisfaction as to the value of his gift and in the work undertaken with his support. We believe that, once completed, the initiative has the potential to positively influence workplace mental health across Canada.”  

But in an email to Global News the organization did admit the workplace initiative is on hold.

“Regarding the Well@Work program itself, because funding has been withdrawn by the donor the program is currently on hold.”

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“CAMH is a place that really needs a Well @ Work program,” Andy Summers, Ontario Nurses’ Association told Global News.

“There is lots of violence there and there is a lot of stresses for the staff.”

In fact, the Ontario Ministry of Labour charged the hospital for violating conditions under the Occupation Health and Safety Act.

The ministry laid charges against CAMH in 2014 following an incident that took place in January 2014 where a patient brutally attacked a nurse while on rounds.

READ MORE: CAMH pleads guilty to workplace safety charge after beating of nurse, fined $80K

CAMH pleaded guilty to one of the charges and was fined $80,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to develop, establish and put in place measures and procedures to protect the health and safety of workers.

“What we know is that our nurses are being injured there on almost a daily basis,” Summers said. “How could this contribute to a psychologically safe workplace? There is no way to separate the two.”

CAMH did says it has implemented polices for the psychological health and safety of its staff. 

“CAMH is in the business of caring for people and that includes our staff. We were an early adopter of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. This Standard outlines recommendations of psychological supports available to staff, elements contributing to a positive organizational culture of respect and civility, clear and effective leadership expectations and all other aspects contributing to an employer’s involvement in, and influence upon psychological health and safety in the workplace.”

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Faas is now looking to continue his goal of creating psychologically healthier workplaces but this time he is collaborating with Mental Health America and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

The Canadian philanthropist says he has donated close $1 million dollars to Yale University and research is currently underway; investigating how people feel about their workplace and how to create healthier workplaces. The initiative is called the Emotion Revolution in the Workplace. Yale will survey 10,000 employees across North America.

BELOW: A statement from the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction (CAMH) 


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