VCI shuts the door to public and members of Columbus Centre

di Joe Volpe del June 28, 2018

The Honourable Joe Volpe, Publisher

TORONTO It may be time for a forensic audit of the finances at Villa Charities Inc.
Somehow, a meeting of management and members of the Board of Governors that requires burly security guards dressed in full battle -gear and covered with flap jackets for self protection in a community centre that used to be an integral part of the local social and fabric cannot be considered confidence inspiring.

Nor is the fact that members in attendance, probably rendered timorous by the presence of peaceful and deferential protesters, felt it necessary to slink away via elevator to a diferent location in the building from the one initially scheduled to a less accessible place, away from public scrutiny.
The purpose of the meeting was to “deliberate on next steps”, as per a message from Anthony DiCaita, president and CEO of Villa Charities Inc., dated June 26, 2018 and circulated beforehand.

It is a very poorly presented document, one that would normally embarrass a professional organization.
But, the CEO’s professionalism is buttressed by claims to have served a public institution, for several years, in a North African State on the Southern border of the Mediterranean.
Transparency International classifies it as one the most corrupt among 175 countries in the world.

First and foremost, the letter advises readers that “Directors for the Villa Charities and Afliate Boards were elected at the AGM on May 31, 2018, as per the by-laws of each organization.”

The public has a right to know if and how they established quorum.
None of the attendees were proud enough to associate their names and their afliates to the event – at least not on camera.
VCI is still a not-for-profit registered charitable organization. Their “new” by-laws, were approved by attendees at another AGM in August of 2014, when afliates were openly contesting the corporate restructuring being foisted upon them in contradiction to the principles inherent in the founding charter.

Little wonder that the current crew has, by any objective standards, next to no public support that it has not bought.
Second, in an expression of defiance to the public and, it could be argued, government rejection of their massive condominium project for the campus, VCI afrms that it “continues to move forward to implement and deliver objectives outlined in [their] Strategic Plan”.
Perhaps it is an indirect method of justifying why they gave themselves a one-year extension in their mandate.

If their strategy is to completely destroy the legacy of a once pearl in the crown of social and cultural achievements in the Italian-Canadian community and beyond, the rest of us are in for a rougher because it would seem their legal counsel has advised them to throw caution to the winds, rather than to resign.

Third, VCI has finally turned its attention to Villa Colombo as “a key priority …to upgrade longterm care beds {as required by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care] … to upgrade the facilities that support 266 of our 391 beds by 2025”.
How have they been managing the asset so far? DiCaita says in his missive that “very early preliminary estimates suggest that this project will cost at a minimum, over 40 million dollars”. That is a total of $150,376.00 per bed in upgrades only!
No indication of who conducted the preliminary estimates; whether the province will pay, or how much?

No indication if this is an indication of discrepancy caused by upgraded provincial standards, by incompetence on the part of the current administration or, heaven forbid, by dereliction of duty on their part.
The public has a right to know. $40 million is a lot of money. A forensic audit might provide everyone with the information, peace of mind and a clear path forward.
This is a ready made opportunity for the newly-elected MPP, Robin Martin, and her government to use the fresh broom the electorate gave her and them.

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