Pride Toronto to meet with members for first time since review raised issues with grant money

Nearly three weeks after publicly apologizing, Pride Toronto is hosting what it calls a Special General Meeting Thursday night to address a review that found the organization couldn’t prove it completed projects for which it received $1.85 million.

Pride ordered the independent third-party review in October 2021 following allegations the organization misrepresented how the federal funds would be used.

“Our board and members have not met since the report was published, which is the purpose of the meeting on Thursday,” a spokesperson for Pride Toronto told CBC News in a statement. The not-for-profit organization added it will also share and discuss the annual independent audit of its finances with its members. 

The meeting will take place virtually and will be live streamed for the public, Pride said.

Review findings

Pride Toronto hired KPMG  to conduct the review. The accounting firm said it did not conduct an audit, but rather, reviewed the organization’s compliance with agreements covering federal grants it received in 2018 and 2019. 

KPMG noted that one of the key conditions of the grants was to deliver certain outputs, but it found there wasn’t enough evidence to show Pride Toronto completed what it promised.

The review highlights that the federal grants added up to $1.85 million, though the organization’s executive director told CBC News last month it cancelled its grant with Public Safety Canada in January of this year, and so the total amount of money it received from Ottawa was closer to $1.2 million.

Of the funds it received, $600,000 was from the Department of Canadian Heritage in 2019 to organize an exhibition of Indigenous two-spirit artwork. 

Pride Toronto published the review online last month and issued a statement saying it’s committed to “rectifying the harm through concrete actions.”

It also apologized to members of the Indigenous and two-spirit communities and outlined a series of measures it’s taking to address the lack of transparency, including hiring a grant and fund development manager and new financial management policies.

Unanswered questions

One vocal critic of Pride Toronto’s actions isn’t convinced the organization has provided a full explanation of how this happened.

“They have to do more with coming forward and accounting for what happened before we can move on to figuring out if they’ve adequately addressed the full problem,” said Tom Hooper, a sessional assistant professor in the equity studies department at York University.  

“So I think that’s what they need to start with is that truth part. And then we can start as a community looking at what needs to be done next.”

Hooper published an investigative report in January that he says highlights problems with the grant applications and inconsistencies in how the organization reported to the federal government. 

Though Pride Toronto pledged to meet and consult with the affected Indigenous people and two-spirit communities directly, Hooper said he doesn’t believe Pride Toronto has properly addressed the harm to those communities, who were supposed to benefit from the funds the organization was granted.

View original article here Source