WE Charity restructuring amid Trudeau scandal, government probe

Jul 16 2020, 6:36 am

WE Charity is restructuring it’s organization, as the House of Commons finance committee is set to probe the charity’s controversial volunteer contract with Trudeau’s government on Thursday in the first of multiple parliamentary investigations.

The committee is set to hear from Youth Minister Bardish Chagger and some other senior public officials as they investigate how WE became the single-sources contract to administer the $900 million program.

The Canada Student Service Grant provides students with one-time payments of up to $5,000 for volunteering in COVID-19 pandemic related programs.

The service grant was going to be administered by WE Charity, an international organization that would screen, train, and match applicants with opportunities and distribute the grants.

The decision by the government to have the third party involved in administering these work opportunities was due to the charities reach and scope, but WE decided to leave the program in early July.

The charity’s involvement faced backlash after it became known that members of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s family earned considerable payments for doing work with the WE.

Trudeau has since apologized for the partnership.

“I made a mistake. I am sincerely sorry for not having removed myself from the discussions. Because of my participation with WE Charity I should have recused myself,” he said on Monday.

But the prime minister was adamant that he was unaware of how much money his family was making from their speaking engagements.

As the finance committee begins to probe, the charity said it would be restructuring its operations and will prioritize international development work focused on children and their families.

But after 25 years of “rapid expansion” their organizational structure has become “more complicated than it needs to be,” which is why it must become more transparent for their stakeholders.

On Thursday, they announced a formal organizational review led by Korn Ferry an expert in organizational design and governance — he will review the Board of Directors.

And the charity will hire a Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, tasked with oversight of all risk management, regulatory, and governance compliance. This position will be independent from management, with direct accountability to the Board of Directors.

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