Premier David Eby welcomed today’s resignation of Janice Abbott, who, for more than three decades, headed what is now the largest supplier of subsidized housing in British Columbia.
Abbott, who became the chief executive officer of Atira Women’s Resource Society 1992, resigned effectively immediately May 15 in the wake of conflict-of-interest concerns related to B.C. Housing.
“This (resignation) will, my hope is, set Atira back on a path of restoring public confidence and trust, so that they can continue delivering essential services to people across the province,” Eby said Monday. He also promised that government would work closely with individuals living in the properties Atira manages.
Atira operates 2,969 units of housing in the Lower Mainland and is the largest contractor of BC Housing, the $2 billion Crown corporation responsible for developing, managing and administering subsidized housing across the province.
Abbott found herself under intense public scrutiny after EY (Ernst & Young) released a forensic audit seven days ago. It found Abbott’s husband, Shayne Ramsay, had violated conflict-of-interest rules on “numerous” occasions when he headed BC Housing to the direct benefit of Atira without directly benefiting himself or Abbott.
The release of the EY report prompted calls for “leadership renewal” at Atira and the writing appeared to be on the wall after the most recent statement from Atira’s board failed to endorse Abbott after the board had previously rejected calls for change.
Abbott’s resignation was the latest in a series of head-spinning developments arising from the BC Housing conflict-of-interest controversy.
Eby said Atira also agreed to open its books to KPMG and allow a government representative on its board after initial reluctance. The independent audit will consider all Atira’s assets including its for-profit-division and coincide with BC Housing’s operational review of Atira’s properties.
BC Housing has also frozen any new funding for the non-profit-organization.
Abbott’s resignation followed Atira’s decision last week to return almost $2 million in funding to BC Housing. Atira had initially refused to return the money following demands from BC Housing’s new leadership.
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon Friday praised that decision.
“I’m pleased to see that (Atira Women’s Resource Society) has done the right thing and returned the $1.9 million owed to BC Housing,” Kahlon said.
Atira’s board said in the statement announcing Abbott’s resignation that it looks to appoint an interim CEO as soon as possible.
Board chair Elva Kim thanked Abbott for her service.
“The focus for the board now is working collaboratively with the (provincial government) and BC Housing, and restoring the public’s confidence in Atira’s integrity, vision, mission, purpose and values,” Kim said.
Ramsay, who took a position with Nch’kay Development Corporation after his resignation, is also no longer with that company as of Friday. It is not clear whether he resigned or was fired.
He headed BC Housing from 2000 to 2022 and his relationship with Abbott started in 2010.