Board CEO: no evidence to support abuse allegations

The CEO of the Keewatin Regional Health Board says he doesn’t expect to find any evidence to support complaints that staff subjected patients to physical abuse, verbal abuse, force-feeding and neglect.


IQALUIT — The official investigating 15 allegations of abuse and neglect at a Rankin Inlet group home for adults told Nunatsiaq News this week that he doesn’t expect to find any evidence to support the allegations.

Dr. Keith Best, a certified health investigator who is also the chief executive officer of the Keewatin Regional Health Board, is carrying out a formal investigation into a complaint filed by a former employee of the group home, Bob Vibert.

Vibert made 15 allegations of abuse and neglect, which he said he witnessed while he was employed at the group home from July to October this year.

Vibert told Nunatsiaq News that he saw staff yelling at residents, neglecting them, force-feeding them at meals and, in one instance, pulling a chair out from under a resident to get him to move.

“There was a total lack of patience, a total disregard for the patient,” Vibert said. “I’ve never seen such an abusive situation. It makes me sick to think about it.”

Vibert who has more than 20 years of experience with the physically and mentally handicapped, said that he was unable to make staff change their approach because of a lack of support from his employer.

Vibert said that his health suffered as a result of the stress.

Vibert said that he knows his credibility is at stake because his complaint pits his version of events against the versions provided by other staff.

“But can you prove it didn’t happen?” Vibert said.

But before even completing his review, Best said that there is “clearly no evidence of physical abuse.”

Best also said that he dealt with Vibert’s allegations on an informal, internal basis shortly after receiving the complaint last month.

“These allegations were addressed, but after the complainant went to the media, I felt it would be helpful to do an investigation,” Best explained.

Best said that he considered Vibert’s file a “nuisance complaint,” reflecting a disagreement between an employee and an employer. He said that couldn’t help wondering why — if Vibert saw what he claims he did — he didn’t try to intervene.

“My question would be [to Vibert], is how come you’re not doing something about it?” Best said.

Vibert had been hired as program director at an Inuit-owned, for-profit company called Kivalliq Consulting, Management and Training Services Ltd., which runs two group homes in Rankin Inlet.

The company was founded in the late 1980s by MLA Jack Anawak’s wife, Caroline Anawak, and employs several of their former foster children. Its present board includes Gloria Anawak and Mary Autut.

The company holds a $1.5 million, renewable, three-year contract with the health board to run these residences.

With no evidence to back up the complaint, Best said that the Keewatin health board would have no reason to take over the untendered contract from its current management.

One of the two group homes managed by Kivalliq Consulting, Management and Training Services serves eight adults, while the other serves children. All residents suffer from a variety of mental and physical handicaps.

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