A preliminary report by Quebec’s Treasury Board reveals a mismanagement of millions of dollars at the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).
The damning report was leaked to La Presse just weeks before the government is set to place the province’s largest English school board under trusteeship. The education minister says it’s too early to consider laying criminal charges.
“I can’t say it right now because we have only a partial report this morning, we don’t have the full report,” said Jean-François Roberge. “I think mistakes were made, of course, but I think the system is dysfunctional.”
The report comes nine months after the education minister mandated the Treasury Board to investigate allegations of corruption and mismanagement at the EMSB.
READ MORE: EMSB announces legal action over transfer of schools to French board
The investigation looked into contracts awarded by the EMSB over a two-year period, from Jan. 1, 2017, to Dec. 31, 2018.
It reveals a long list of irregularities, including:
-$44 million in contracts bypassed the province’s electronic bidding system;
-13 contracts worth $2.8 million dollars failed to follow the proper bidding process; and
-41 entrepreneurs received $7 million in maintenance and repair contracts without the required public call for tenders.
“The report is a difficult one,” said EMSB chair Angela Mancini. “I welcome any of the comments that will be made to us in view of improving processes that we have in place.”
Mancini insists she’s expressed concern over the years over the very problems that were uncovered by the investigation. While she’s open to following recommendations to improve the EMSB’s current practices, it may be too late. The education ministry is already planning to wipe out school boards with Bill 40 and replace them with service centres.
And more major changes are imminent at the EMSB.
“Partial trusteeship or full trusteeship, we will decide in the coming weeks,” said Roberge, adding that he’s convinced service centres will help avoid the mismanagement of millions of taxpayer dollars.
“Roles aren’t clear, nobody knows what their responsibility is,” he said. “With the new law with the new governance it will be clearer and everybody will know what they have to do.”