Toronto Community Housing removes CEO amid contract controversy

Toronto Community Housing removes CEO amid contract controversy

The board for Canada’s largest housing provider has forced out its latest CEO amid controversy over the hiring of a contractor.

The Toronto Community Housing board announced Thursday that Kathy Milsom had been removed after she had been put on paid leave in mid-December.

Kathy Milsom’s conduct during the process to award a contract failed to meet “the high standard that we set for ourselves,” the TCH board said in a statement.
Kathy Milsom’s conduct during the process to award a contract failed to meet “the high standard that we set for ourselves,” the TCH board said in a statement.  (Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star file photo)

It is the latest in ongoing turmoil at the highest levels of Toronto Community Housing

The controversy began when the Toronto Sun first reported on the existence of a $1.3 million contract with management consultancy Orchango, after a tender process the board earlier called “flawed” and that “did not follow existing TCH regulations.” The remainder of that contract was terminated in December.

“Having carefully considered all of the available evidence, the board has concluded that TCHC CEO Kathy Milsom’s conduct throughout this process did not meet the high standard that we set for ourselves,” a statement issued by the board reads. “This conduct included overseeing an RFP process that did not comply with the procedures and protocols expected of a public procurement process and failing to fully co-operate with the investigation that has led to this independent report.”

The board is replacing her with current board chair Kevin Marshman, the statement said, “in order to ensure stability and continuity for our employees and tenants” — apparently forgoing a new executive search.

Milsom responded with her own statement shortly after the announcement was made saying she found the decision of the board “deeply troubling.”

“I can say with emphatic and unequivocal certainty that at all times I acted in the best interest of the organization, its tenants, its employees, and its stakeholders,” Milsom’s statement reads. “I recognize that change in large organizations is not easy, but we had finally started to bring the meaningful, positive change to the organization that I was hired for, whether from a fire life-safety perspective, or being more tenant centric, responsive and fiscally responsible.”

She concluded by saying: “I look forward to being vindicated of these allegations in due course.”

Milsom could not immediately be reached for further comment.

Mayor John Tory supported the decision in a statement sent from his office and called the situation “disappointing.”

“The Toronto Community Housing board has taken decisive action and I believe the board has made the right decision,” he said. “I firmly believe that everyone involved in the good governance of City agencies must be held to the absolute highest standards.”

Tory said he has already met with Marshman.

“I know he is just as determined as I am to ensure the progress we have made at Toronto Community Housing continues and wherever possible is accelerated.”

Milsom was appointed CEO in August 2017.

She is the fourth CEO to be ousted from the city agency since 2011, most who were pushed out during ongoing scandals.

Toronto Community Housing is responsible for about 110,000 tenants, most who have subsidized rents and many who are vulnerable.

Jennifer Pagliaro is a Toronto-based reporter covering city politics. Follow her on Twitter: @jpags

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