Canada’s Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, Mario Dion, has released the findings from his investigation into whether or not hundreds of thousands of dollars of public funds were mismanaged at the Blue Water Bridge by authorities.
The Commissioner reportedly said in a media teleconference earlier today that former President and CEO Chuck Chrapko seriously breached the Bridge Authority Code of Ethics and Conduct by mishandling public funds awarding two excessive severance payouts totaling more than $650,000 to two managers between 2008 and 2011.
The investigation found that the first excessive severance package was given to a HR manager after an effectual harassment complaint against her in 2008.
The second flagged severance package was given to a Project Manager in 2011 who was married, at the time, married to the HR manager who received the first excessive severance package three years earlier. That second package totaled in excess of $292,000 and included 24 months of sustained salary and related benefits.
Dion added that an additional claim, stemming from the investigation started July 31, 2012, of gross mismanagement could not be corroborated under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act.
In 2008, when the HR manager left her position, Blue Water Bridge Canada did not have a severance policy and the package she was given was not in accordance with the Termination of Employment policy in force at the time. It was reported that she received retiree benefits despite not meeting the minimum age requirement along with 36 months of sustained salary and benefits.
Chrapko defended his decision in the case of the second excessive package saying that that individual allegedly saved millions of dollars over the years for Blue Water Bridge Canada.
However, the Commissioner said that, in both instances, the rationale presented by Chrapko, who resigned earlier this year on Mar. 15, for the severance packages was not reasonable.
Dion said that in both cases there was a lack of severance compensation guidelines and added that he does not know if it will be possible to recover any of the funds. He noted, however, that his findings have been sent to Transport Canada, the federal ministry with authority in the matter.
The Blue Water Bridge Canada Board approved a Severance Pay Policy in February of 2012.