Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Elder Abuse in Winnipeg MB Arms of the Cross Seniors Housing

According to a Winnipeg MCC Thrift Shop volunteer, concerns of shopping tenants from a local seniors housing complex are growing. Plagued with management's threats, the abuse continues to escalate.  This week began no differently...

New concerns have arisen regarding the thwarting of a tenant only initiative [rather than the management run 'friendship group' controlled by management and board members].  The Mosaik Tenants poster inviting all tenants to a startup meeting was
removed from the bulletin board in violation of Residential Tenancy Branch rep's statement at last week's meeting, assuring tenants of the Arms of the Cross Housing,
"no one can prevent you from starting a tenants' association neither tenants' use of the common room without charge" .  Management has done both.  Removed the Mosaik Tenants' poster and booked the room for their own board meeting this Wednesday evening.  

Mosaik Tenants Initiative members are watching for a response to their letter stating planned use of the room as described by RTB.  If management had truly pre-booked the common room for their board meeting, then an alternate time should have been offered for the new Tenants Initiative meeting.  It also is to be available to tenants without charge.  That has been management's continual threat to prevent tenants use of the room - rental fees and damage deposits.  Which, according to RTB, is not allowed....

Just one week ago, members of local and provincial government attended a meeting with tenants seeking clarification on rules and regulations required for issues being experienced in living with a non-cooperative management who continues to make their own rules and utter threats of eviction at will.

West End tenants of 555 Burnell Street in Winnipeg MB met August 28th at 11:30 a.m. with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) rep. Ernie Gagnon and other board reps, City Councillor Harvey Smith, and Attorney General, MLA, Minister of Justice, lawyer Mr. Andrew Swan in an effort to bring to light longstanding tenancy issues with Massey Management Services 2008 and the Board of the Church of the Cross sponsored, [55+] Arms of the Cross Housing Inc.  

Unfortunately, manager Dan Massey, was provided more opportunity to speak to his own agenda than listen to the legitimate concerns of the tenants, which was allowed by Minister Swan who was chairing the meeting.  Why?  He repeatedly and obviously stepped back to allow the imbalance rather than allowing tenants to speak.  Even when hands were raised to indicate they wanted to use their long-awaited chance to bring their issues to the table, they were interrupted or prevented from speaking by Minister Swan as he saw fit. Leaving tenants unrecognized and with real issues trivialized, including but not limited to:
Continual illegal entry of tenants’ suites, suppressing evidence of criminal incidents, violating federal privacy laws, lack of privacy regulation knowledge, implementation and adherence to PIPEDA, unsubstantial eviction notices, improper serving of notices, unreasonable rules and policies for elderly tenants, threatening, bullying, elder abuse and disrespect, preventing tenants’ use of common room, prevention of a tenant organized association in preference for the Massey Management run group, tenants being charged for needed repairs, lengthy waits and/or denial of needed repairs, fire code violations, favouritism, policy preventing tenants from presenting issues to Board of Directors, prevention of tenant concerns reaching the Board, living under threat of eviction at manager’s will - just some of management’s actions needing to be addressed by RTB.
Other issues prevented from being raised included the issue of whether employees are bonded and criminal background checks verified.
 One incident of tenant abuse by management was specifically directed to Andrew Swan:
“In your capacity as Attorney General, can you tell us whether it is legal or not to suppress evidence and bully vulnerable tenants into not reporting incidents to the police?”
 Mr. Swan replied:  “Well, we have had a really positive meeting together to talk about things and you have heard Mr. Gagnon say if tenants have concerns or complaints, that the first hope is that you take it to the landlord to get the problems resolved.  If the problem is not resolved, you have the right to make a complaint to the Residential Tenancy Branch and the branch will then investigate.  They may not resolve that the way that will make everybody happy, but it is their job and their duty, and they’re much happier to be on the front end of things, giving information and making sure everybody has the same information rather than having to deal with complaints.  But they stand ready to do that.  So you have heard very clearly that if you are not satisfied with the response you are getting from the landlord, you have other remedies you are entitled to follow.  So I think that’s probably the best answer I can give you.” 
Unfortunately, if that’s the “best answer” our Minister of Justice can provide, tenants are left in a sorry state.  Living in fear and under stress in a potentially unprotected state endorsed by  Minister Swan because he was more interested in patting the management on the back than making a clear statement of management’s wrongdoing and addressing the clearly stated issue.  What about his fiduciary responsibility?  At the very least, Minister Swan could have assured tenants the issues would be addressed, but nothing was.  Nor was it forthcoming.  He refused to address the issue when presented with the opportunity.  Does Massey Management perpetrate their pattern of threats and abuse, endorsed in their actions by the Minister of Justice’s own refusal to deal directly with the issues?
 Perhaps a further incident of abuse occurring Sept 1st would have been prevented by a legitimate recognition of wrongdoing by Minister Swan when he had the opportunity. 
Despite these issues having been brought, in writing, to the attention of those government officials and Board members present at the meeting, neither manager, members of the Board of Directors, nor the sponsoring Church of the Cross pastor, also in attendance, took ownership for any of their actions.  Nor was there an apology for any of the abusive actions and injustices endured by tenants despite knowledge of same.  
 Where does that leave the tenants?  What was the purpose of Minister Andrew Swan’s presence if not to see that the issues were brought into the light in order that RTB could address them? RTB could then give the necessary guidance for both management and tenants to understand their roles and rules. 
 Councillor Harvey Smith had earlier made it clear in an Aug 13th letter addressed and delivered individually to the tenants, that management’s violation of provincial and federal laws, whilst conducting the affairs of the apartment, is not acceptable and is illegal.   He has taken a clear stand on behalf of the tenants and made himself available for advice and assistance.  His response to the question left unaddressed by Andrew Swan is, “Any case of crime must be reported to the police.”
 Concerned West End neighbour, Don Woodstock, says “Management should never bully vulnerable people nor suppress evidence and such behaviour should be reported immediately to the police.  Especially where there is a loss of personal property.” 
The tenants that are affected the most by this abusive management style did not receive any assurance from Attorney General, Lawyer and MLA, Andrew Swan, that this kind of behaviour was wrong.  Mr. Swan needs to answer the questions directly.   Or is he protecting the management team and agreeing with their actions to do as they wish –
                       abusing vulnerable tenants in whatever way they please?
Concerns continue for the protection of the elderly and calls for relief from the harmful situations being experienced.  When Residential Tenancy Branch lawful rules and regulations currently in place continue to be ignored by management and our own Minister of Justice, a wider audience needs to be aware of these seniors' reality.  No one should be living with invasions of privacy, unjust and unfounded threats of eviction, charges for repairs, denial of use of common areas, the right to form their own tenant association, and favouritism - all perpetrated by management.  

Neither should elderly seniors suffer break and entry via key with subsequent financial loss and when reported to management, told not to report to the police.  This is unconscionable.  What will it take to hear so from Justice Minister Andrew Swan?

Should the tenants experiencing these realities be left to suffer in silence?  

I am one [more] who doesn't believe so.

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