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Native health agency misspent 
$6.4 million 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:00 p.m., August 24, 2007]

Health Canada released a scathing audit this summer about the spending practices of a Manitoba aboriginal health agency..

OTTAWA --In August, Health Canada released an audit that found a Winnipeg-based native health agency misspent $6.4 million.   

The audit found that 11 per cent of the $57 million the Anishinaabe Mino-Ayaawin (AMA) spent between 1997 and 2005 was questionable.  

The audit has been turned over to the RCMP.  Health Canada stopped providing funding to the agency in 2005. 

The audit found: 

> A number of insufficiently supported payments were made to chiefs and councils; 

> Numerous transactions were recorded as “community expenses”, and for which no receipts or invoices were available; 

> Travel claims that were deemed questionable because no receipts were available, or because the relationship of the travel to delivering health programs was unclear; 

> "Finder’s fees” were paid to the CEO of AMA . The audit said these services were very similar to the services that the CEO would have been expected to provide as part of his job and thus "these fees were considered duplicate payments for services and placed the CEO in a conflict of interest situation." 

This is the second native health care agency in Manitoba to be involved in a similar scandal. 

In 2005, former public servant Paul Cochrane was charged and jailed for accepting more than $200,000 in kickbacks in exchange for allowing $70 million in contracts to flow to the Virginia Fontaine centre. Cochrane was head of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch at Health Canada. 

A 2003, Health Canada forensic audit of  Virginia Fontaine discovered a number of discrepancies, including payments to board members, no contracts to support payments, no invoices to support payments, little or no evidence of deliverables and unusual transactions occurring after an October 2000 cruise for employees.

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