TORONTO — Pride Toronto says it's committed to "rectifying the harm" caused by problems in its management of $1.85 million in federal grants.
The not-for-profit organization has apologized for the issues uncovered by an independent, third-party review, which found that Pride Toronto could not provide enough documentation to prove it completed several proposed projects after receiving the grants.
"The fact that these issues even occurred is beyond explanation or belief. That said, it did happen, and we are very sorry for the trouble this has caused," the organization said in a written statement.
"Pride Toronto is committed to rectifying the harm through concrete actions."
The organization also said it has reached out to funding partners who it "wrongly, and without their permission or approval, made false representations" about, claiming their support for grant applications.
Pride Toronto, which organizes the city's annual Pride Parade and other Pride month events, said it hired KPMG in October 2021 to undertake a "grant compliance review" of three grants it received in 2018 and 2019. It said it called for the review following allegations that the use and reporting of those funds "negatively impacted" the Indigenous community.
The organization also asked the accounting firm to provide recommendations to ensure Pride Toronto's processes "meet the highest standards" going forward.
The KPMG review, which was publicly released by Pride Toronto, said the organization "could not provide some evidence to show that they had completed several of the proposed deliverables."
According to the review, Pride Toronto received a $600,000 grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage to showcase the artwork of two-spirit and LGBTQ Indigenous artists and a $1-million grant from Public Safety Canada to develop community safety strategies for those communities.
It received a second grant of $250,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage to delve into Canada's journey from the criminalization to the decriminalization of homosexuality.
The KPMG review stated that for each of the grants, there were deliverables that needed to be submitted to the funder according to a schedule, such as cash flow statements and interim and final activity reports, but Pride Toronto did not submit "several" of those. In some cases, deliverables were submitted late.
The accounting firm issued several recommendations for Pride Toronto. It advised the organization's board of directors and executive director to develop a long-term strategic plan and budget to better guide choices relating to grant applications and project spending, as well as to increase transparency on how it uses government funding.
Pride Toronto said it was taking several actions in response to the review, such as ensuring transparency by posting summaries of all awarded government grants online and having all grant applications approved by its board of directors.
It also said it has apologized to the Indigenous individuals and two-spirit communities it has harmed, adding it has requested to consult with them to find an "appropriate and acceptable financial resolution for the acts of settler colonialism" it said the organization inflicted on them.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Noushin Ziafati, The Canadian Press