The Toronto-area Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has lost a $1 million donation after allegedly not being forthcoming with the wealthy philanthropist who made the donation, and exactly what the organization did with the money.
“I would say very, very, very disappointing,” Andrew Faas, the founder of The Faas Foundation, told Global News, about his withdrawal of the funds.
The Faas Foundation, an organization that aims to create psychologically safe and healthy workplaces, is led by Faas, who is a former executive with Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaws. Faas gave $1 million to the CAMH Foundation to create a Well@Work program; an initiative designed to create healthier and more psychologically sound workplaces across Canada.
But the project didn’t quite work out as Faas hoped.
After he gave the first instalment of the donation – roughly $333,000 – Faas says CAMH wasn’t clear with where his money was spent.
“I was getting basically gobbledygook answers. I was after accountability,” Faas explains. “…if there’s other information out there, give it to me because I want this to work.”
Global News reached out to CAMH requesting an interview to find out what happened to funds provided by the Faas Foundation.
CAMH declined to be interviewed but said in a written statement it has “a rigorous process of objective financial oversight” and in general communications with donors are confidential. The CAMH statement went on to say they provide donors “accountability reports, timelines and updates.”
“CAMH stands by the progress made in the first year of the Well@Work Program and will remain grateful to Mr. Faas for sharing in the original vision and plans.”
“We continue to work towards re-establishing Mr. Faas’ satisfaction as to the value of his gift and in the work undertaken with his support. We believe that, once completed, the initiative has the potential to positively influence workplace mental health across Canada.”
But in an email to Global News the organization did admit the workplace initiative is on hold.
“Regarding the Well@Work program itself, because funding has been withdrawn by the donor the program is currently on hold.”
“CAMH is a place that really needs a Well @ Work program,” Andy Summers, Ontario Nurses’ Association told Global News.
“There is lots of violence there and there is a lot of stresses for the staff.”
In fact, the Ontario Ministry of Labour charged the hospital for violating conditions under the Occupation Health and Safety Act.
The ministry laid charges against CAMH in 2014 following an incident that took place in January 2014 where a patient brutally attacked a nurse while on rounds.
CAMH pleaded guilty to one of the charges and was fined $80,000 under the Occupational Health and Safety Act for failing to develop, establish and put in place measures and procedures to protect the health and safety of workers.
“What we know is that our nurses are being injured there on almost a daily basis,” Summers said. “How could this contribute to a psychologically safe workplace? There is no way to separate the two.”
CAMH did says it has implemented polices for the psychological health and safety of its staff.
“CAMH is in the business of caring for people and that includes our staff. We were an early adopter of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. This Standard outlines recommendations of psychological supports available to staff, elements contributing to a positive organizational culture of respect and civility, clear and effective leadership expectations and all other aspects contributing to an employer’s involvement in, and influence upon psychological health and safety in the workplace.”
Faas is now looking to continue his goal of creating psychologically healthier workplaces but this time he is collaborating with Mental Health America and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
The Canadian philanthropist says he has donated close $1 million dollars to Yale University and research is currently underway; investigating how people feel about their workplace and how to create healthier workplaces. The initiative is called the Emotion Revolution in the Workplace. Yale will survey 10,000 employees across North America.
From the Faas Foundation:
The Faas Foundation announced today that it will part ways with its former grant designee, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The Faas Foundation has withdrawn its $1 million gift for CAMH’s Well @ Work program, due to CAMH’s inability to demonstrate that the first installment of the funds was applied towards The Faas Foundation’s objectives. CAMH is the largest mental health and addictions teaching hospital and center for research in Canada.
According to Foundation President Andrew Faas: “We deeply regret that things have come to this point with CAMH. We awarded the funds in good faith and expected results that were in keeping with the guidelines we agreed upon. The Faas Foundation is an established institution that has awarded many grants and has embarked on numerous partnerships. This is the first time in our 11 years that we have lost confidence in a grantee.” The Faas Foundation will commence legal proceedings to redirect the returned funds to projects and initiatives consistent with its mission to create psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces.
The mission of The Faas Foundation is to help employees deal with the stress and emotions of their jobs by creating psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces across North America. Demand is high from worthy organizations. “We are only able to award a limited amount of funding every year,” said Faas. “It is important that there be demonstrable accountability from the institutions that receive these funds, so that we can be confident that the funds have been applied towards our objectives. We are not satisfied that that was done in this case, which is unfortunate, because other groups could have benefited from these funds.”
Faas expressed disappointment that the initiative to create a joint Canadian/American effort to solve a major global social and economic issue has been set back. However, he said, “We feel confident that with our other partners, we can make a real difference.”
THE FAAS FOUNDATION was established in 2005 by Andrew Faas and supports organizations in the areas of general health, education, medical research and psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces. The Foundation was started because of Faas’ deeply held concern for solving health issues through funding basic research projects. His work as an anti-bullying activist reflects his desire to create healthy work environments. The Foundation partners with a variety of organizations in the United States and Canada to collaborate on solutions for some of the world’s most pressing medical and societal issues, such as cancer research, workplace well-being and HIV/AIDS care.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health released the following statement:
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest hospital specializing in mental illness, treating over 31,000 patients annually. Philanthropy plays animportant role in our work, helping CAMH turn groundbreaking research into life-saving treatments,advancing care through education and creating modern spaces that promote healing and discovery.