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The Salvation Army would welcome an independent review of its operations in Charlottetown that have come under attack by clients and former staff.
“We’re certainly open to a third-party investigation," says Maj. Jamie Locke, divisional secretary for public relations and development.
The Salvation Army has begun its own internal investigation into recent strong criticism of its management of a men’s shelter and a facility providing support services to Islanders in need.
Green MLA Hannah Bell is calling on the province, which has committed almost $4 million in funding to the Christian organization during the next three years, to commit to an independent third-party investigation.
Bell said recently in the legislature it was “totally inappropriate" for the Salvation Army to conduct the investigation.
Clients and former staff have voiced both concern and outrage to The Guardian at how some staff treat people seeking shelter and support at Bedford MacDonald House and the Outreach Centre.
Madison Mackay, who quit her part-time job at Bedford MacDonald House, accuses some staff of racist and discriminatory behaviour.
Locke says all allegations are being taken seriously but adds the Salvation Army has not received any formal complaints, making the investigation more challenging. He says staff and clients are being urged to voice any concerns.
“We want to move quickly (in the internal investigation) but we also want to be thorough. … We want to be accountable and transparent," he says.
Locke stresses any case where a client is refused service is based on behavioural issues and has absolutely nothing to do with a client’s age, ethnicity, religion, race or other such factors.
“We hold ourselves to a very high standard," says Locke.
He adds before The Guardian published concerns levelled against the Salvation Army, the organization had reviewed operations at Bedford MacDonald House. The review resulted in a change in staffing, perhaps most notably the departure of Mike Redmond, who served as residential manager from November 2019 to Sept. 1, 2020.
All those interviewed by The Guardian say operations have taken a decided downturn since Redmond's departure.
“I cannot comment on the matters of employee relations or the departure of Mike Redmond," says Locke.