News Archives: GPRC Beefs up Fiscal Policy
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
The chief electoral officer of Alberta is investigating several constituency associations and a number of municipalities and other publicly funded organizations, including GPRC, over alleged political contributions after a complaint was filed last fall. Under the Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Act, it is illegal for political parties to solicit and accept political contributions from municipalities and post-secondary schools, among other public bodies.
The Chair of the GPRC Board of Governors, Vincent Vavrek, CA, says that the Governors and Executive of GPRC are very clear about the law. "None of us would ever knowingly put the College in the position of designating monies to a political party; we know the law!" As soon as the first murmurings of possible infractions began to surface last fall, GPRC undertook a rigorous scrutiny of its policies, procedures and actions to reveal any possible outstanding reimbursements, and to add necessary controls.
GPRC has solid financial controls in place, which helped to quickly identify and correct anomalies related to this issue.
"This is an issue of process, not intent," Vavrek says. "We have taken this opportunity to tighten up our policies and processes to ensure this cannot happen in the future." The College has introduced new policies at both governance and operational levels.
Over the period from 2004 to 2012, a total of $3680 was expended for attendance on behalf of the College at events such as the Premier's Dinner. GPRC President and CEO Don Gnatiuk says that the appropriate checks and balances which were not inplace to prevent this situation, have now been instituted. Full reimbursement has since been made.
"We have learned from this experience," Gnatiuk says. "On behalf of GPRC I take full responsibility for this error; I sincerely apologize to my College for having allowed these inadvertent contributions under my watch. The changes we have now made to policy have eliminated the possibility that this could ever happen again." GPRC awaits further instruction from Elections Alberta regarding this error of process.
Meanwhile, every effort is being made to ensure such situations will not arise in the future. One revised financial policy relating to political events and contributions now clearly states that attendance by GPRC representatives in their official capacity at political events is strictly prohibited, and that GPRC funds cannot be used to contribute to a registered political party, a registered constituency, association or a registered political candidate.
"We openly share this information with the stakeholders of our region," Vavrek adds. "GPRC has welcomed this occasion for review, which has prompted us to examine our policies and tighten our processes, and thus to better prepare for our future. The Board is proud of our administration and our College, which has recently been recognized for its significantly improved processes and internal controls."