The former CEO of BC Housing is gone from the Squamish Nation company involved in building rental towers around the Burrard Bridge, just four days after a provincial government report found Shayne Ramsay broke conflict of interest rules.
Ramsay announced his retirement from BC Housing after 22 years last August but resurfaced in September with Nch’kay Development Corporation as its executive vice-president. After the Ernst and Young forensic audit report was released Monday, the Squamish Nation referred queries to Nch’kay, which did not respond until 12:29 p.m. Friday with a nine-word email: “Shayne Ramsey [sic] is no longer with Nch’ḵay̓ Development Corporation.”
Ramsay’s bio has also disappeared from the Nch’kay website. Nch’kay did not immediately reveal whether Ramsay had resigned or been fired. The Nch’kay board is chaired by former NDP leader Joy MacPhail.
The damning report for the Office of the Comptroller General found Ramsay subverted conflict of interest rules and shifted contracts and funding to his wife, Atira Women’s Resource Society CEO Janice Abbott, without a competitive process. Ramsay had agreed in writing in 2010 to a conflict of interest protocol to manage the business side of his relationship with Abbott.
Abbott is also in her second three-year term on the board of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), which gave a $1.4 billion loan last September to Senakw.
A statement from the Office of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion said the CMHC board is not involved in awarding national housing strategy funding.
“However, as a precautionary measure, Minister [Ahmed] Hussen has already directed CMHC to review Atira. Minister Hussen will also be asking the chair of the CMHC board of directors to look into this to ensure all rules were followed by CMHC board members at all times.”
Atira communications director Caithlin Scarpelli has not responded to repeated queries. Premier David Eby and B.C. Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon have publicly called for Atira to replace Abbott. However, a statement released late Monday night by the Atira board of directors said it “remains confident that its CEO and senior management will guide the organization through these challenges and make required improvements to Atira’s operations and administration.”
Since 2019, Atira’s funding outpaced other agencies, culminating in 2022 when it received $35 million more than the next-highest provider.
“BC Housing’s financial reviews of Atira have been substantially delayed,” the Ernst and Young report said. “The most recently completed financial review was for fiscal year 2020, which was finalized in August 2022.”
The report also said that Ramsay modified meeting minutes and routinely deleted text messages, despite explicit instructions from the Office of the Comptroller General to preserve records.
Meanwhile, Atira announced early Friday afternoon that it had returned $1.9 million in surplus funds from 2020 and 2021 to BC Housing on Thursday.
It struck a task force involving board chair Elva Kim and the chairs of the finance and governance committees to review policies and practices.
“Discussions are underway toward the appointment of the independent review team,” said the Atira statement.
The statement from Atira said it takes the report “with the utmost seriousness” and is open to the idea of a provincial government representative on its board.