It seems that Christmas came early for a select group of people in Winnipeg. The group? The three staff members and 85 volunteers of the CNIB Winnipeg’s recording studio. The gift? The sudden closure (effective December 31st) of the CNIB audio book recording studio, and the loss of their employment and volunteer work positions, without so much as a thank you…or much of a valid or logical explanation as to why they got this lump of CNIB coal.
Just as I was preparing to retire this blog permanently in order to pursue greener writing pastures (writing for green backs, actually), an e-mail arrived in my inbox which enticed me into writing one more CNIB exposé. Who could resist? Certainly not I. My secret Santa/ mole (and one of the former dedicated volunteers of the CNIB Winnipeg’s recording studio) illuminated my gloomy day with his take on what REALLY went down there in the Peg. ‘Bubba’ waxed poetically and provided a supportive link to a recent article in the Winnipeg Free Press. (www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/35590734.html
‘Bubba’ had read some of my earlier blogs describing the many antics of the CNIB and why I have come to disrespect this organization which purports to be the ‘be all and end all’, do-good group for the blind…something akin to the second coming of the blind Christ. He dangled this carrot for me to chase. I must admit that initially, I had a flash of minor paranoia that this carrot might be bait from a CNIB henchman. ( for I have never seen a more closed, backroom, boys club, unaccountable, un-transparent group like CNIB, since my days with the SIU (Seafarer’s International Union). At least the SIU was more obvious about controlling their membership, protecting their own interests, imposing their will, and generally, being a scum-sucking type of outfit. The major difference really, is that CNIB is a REGISTERED CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION!)
‘Bubba’ tells me that he has “come to firmly believe the CNIB has leadership issues”. Hmm. He goes on to acknowledge that times are tough in the charity sector and that cost cutting is to be expected…yada, yada. Then, he explained that “when the CNIB announced the closure of the recording studio to volunteers, (operating for over 20 years in talking book and magazine production) , one would think it was the result of proper reasoning and due diligence. If not for the outcry of one volunteer, it appears the CNIB would have in fact hoped that this would pass quietly and without notice” The reason given to the volunteers and the media, for the closure, was “purely financial”
In a December 4th CBC radio interview, the head of the CNIB library was asked about the ‘economic’ reasons for closure, and specifically, “what is the savings of closing the Winnipeg facility?”. The reply given, was ” I don’t know” and a mumbled, “We don’t do accounting that way”. So, now we all wonder how the CNIB can terminate three paid staff and throw away the value of 85 qualified volunteers who donate 12,000 hours of their time each year, on the basis of “I don’t know”? CBC reported the annual budget of CNIB as 82 million dollars (that’s $82,000,000.00). So, we wonder how the director of a division ( CNIB library) with a 9 million dollar spending tab in 2007, makes a major financial decision on the basis of ‘I don’t know’ and some “new fangled accounting practice that is apparently….unaccountable.” to quote ‘Bubba’. Then, to further the insanity and irrationality, the CNIB stated to the media (this despite their public reason for the closure of the Winnipeg studio — ‘tough economic times’), that “no capacity would be lost”. Ah. Clear as mud. They hammered their own coffin nail by claiming that the CNIB library in Toronto will pick up the audio book recording slack. Hmm. Actually. That’s another CNIB lie (oops, I mean, ‘untruth’). The staff at the Toronto library has already told Winnipeg studio staff (internally) that there is no contingency for extra recording shifts in Toronto or to put in extra recording booths there, or anywhere else in the country. The soundproof recording booths in Winnipeg are being GIVEN AWAY, not moved or sold to recoup money “in these tough economic times”. Here’s the kicker. A group of the dedicated , qualified, albeit axed Winnipeg volunteers, asked the CNIB leadership if the studio could be saved if they raised the estimated $110,000 to run it. The response from CNIB was NO. When pushed to explain their reasoning, the group was told by the CNIB did they not want to do accounting that way or to responsible for an endowment to the Winnipeg studio.
This is how you run a registered charity?
Is it any wonder that we, the people who come to discover how truly unprofessional and boorish the CNIB executive and leadership is, choose to distance ourselves from it? (some of us voluntarily, and others by default as turfed out volunteers with this nutty outfit)? Big collective sigh. Thanks ‘Bubba’, you made my day.