Talbot House responds to Peterson-Rafuse’s about-face

The background:

  • On June 11, Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse agreed to suspend her department’s tender call to replace the addiction services formerly provided by Cape Breton’s Talbot House Recovery Centre, and pledged to personally lead direct negotiations with Talbot’s board for a new contract to deliver those services.
  • Just 25 days later, without holding a single meeting with the board, Peterson-Rafuse told Talbot House she would not meet with them after all, and would instead proceed with the tender call.

Talbot’s board chair, Sydney psychologist John Gainer, issued the following statement Wednesday:

The Board of Directors of Talbot House was informed in a letter dated July 6, 2012, that the Minister of Community Services has withdrawn from further independent discussion with the Board and will issue a general request for proposals for an addiction recovery house in Cape Breton.

Gainer

Following what seemed to be a productive meeting in early June, the Board of Director’s was optimistic and eager to continue discussion with the Minister regarding the re-establishment of a service agreement between the Department of Community Services and the Talbot House Board.

The Minister agreed to review the report of the organizational review of Talbot House and the Board’s detailed and critical response. The Minister also agreed to meet regularly and directly with the Board to continue discussion. The Board agreed to provide additional documentation to the Minister in advance of subsequent meetings.

A follow-up meeting was never scheduled, due to the Minister’s and the Board members’ respective work and travel schedules in June and early July. On June 21, 2012 the Board requested available meeting dates from the Minister and informed her that she would be provided with all relevant information well in advance of the next meeting, including a detailed outline of the Board’s plans to establish compliance with Department of Community Services standards.

In the July 6, 2012 letter to the Board and in subsequent email correspondence, the Minister indicated that the Board had “failed” to “immediately” send her requested information, despite there being no agreed upon or specific deadline for the submission of documents.

The Board had also requested that the Minister send policy and governance documents from the other recovery houses in the province for the Board’s review. The Department of Community Services had indicated that the other facilities met or exceeded all government standards and the Board hoped to use the documents as government-approved templates. To date, the Board has received neither documents nor response on this matter from the Department of Community Services.

The Minister has indicated that she “stand(s) by” the organizational review and believes it “followed the standard and appropriate processes.” The Board of Directors of Talbot House maintains that both the review process and report remain fundamentally flawed. The Board has requested that the Minister publish the Board’s written response on our government’s website. There has been no response.


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