When Equestrian Canada revealed their 2017 financial summary last week, at least one committee was surprised to see the numbers that they have not been able to review in over a year. EC reports that Equine Medications operated at a loss of $33,004 for the 2017 fiscal year which ended March 31, but the committee is unable to explain the shortfall.
“I can’t comment on the deficit,” said Yves Rossier, chair of the Equine Medication committee. “The EMCC (Equine Medication Control Committee) has not been provided with a detailed financial statement and the breakdown of expenses and revenues to explain the 33k deficit.”
Rossier noted that the group meets face-to-face each November to review the entire program, but they were unable to review the financial information at their November 2016 meeting because EC did not provide any details. The new Chief Financial Officer was just getting settled (she subsequently resigned a month later) and EC advised the group that the office was in the midst of changing accounting software so the information was not available. Without those details, the committee was unable to review the costs and income that go into the Equine Medication budget and so could not verify that the items were correctly allocated. Despite repeated requests since, EC still has not provided the group with the necessary information.
“I was very surprised that they released numbers showing we overspent by $33,000 when they haven’t been able to provide us with any information,” commented fellow committee member, Geoff Vernon, DVM, who has been on the committee since 2014. “We asked again after the financial summary was released but were once again told that they weren’t available. Explain how that’s possible if they can release a summary?”
Without the detailed financial information to prove otherwise, many in the industry are concerned that EC is funneling operational expenses through various committees to pay for their overall budget. “The equine meds budget is supposed to be self-sustaining,” added Vernon. “It is not our mandate to cover the overhead of the EC office but I suspect that might be the case.”
Aside from their inability to get their financial questions answered, the committee has had difficulty maintaining communications with EC. “The link with EC is inconsistent,” commented Vernon. “There has been tremendous turnover and as soon as we trained a new staffer they would leave.”
The high staff turn-over under Eva Havaris’s time as CEO has been challenging. EC’s Competition Services Coordinator, Emily Church, left abruptly this spring and her absence almost derailed the entire 2017 program. “Without an EC point person in charge of assigning technicians for the shows and sending out the testing kits, there was nobody to execute the program,” said Vernon.
The committee’s experience highlights the difficulties that many others in the industry have echoed over the last year. The parade of CFOs during Havaris’s employment have made getting any financial information at the committee level impossible. This is exacerbated by Havaris’s insistence that EC’s new operational structure means that financial details are the sole domain of the head office and of no concern to the committees.
EC’s AGM is scheduled for Monday September 25 at 7pm ET. While only board members and the 27 voting members are permitted to participate, interested parties can watch the proceedings via Facebook Live. For those not on social media, EC will post the video of the AGM on their website after the event along with the minutes.
The board agreed to answer voting members’ questions before the AGM and a maximum of two questions during the AGM from each of the three categories. Perhaps the voters – who represent the entire industry – will have more success in demanding financial transparency and accountability. While the CEO reports to the board, the board answers to the voters who should be asking why their representatives continue to support a CEO who is responsible for the ongoing confusion and distrust that is thwarting the industry.