The Halifax Chronicle Herald
June 12, 2012 – 10:48am
By AARON BESWICK Truro Bureau
UPDATED 5:02 p.m. Tuesday
FRENCHVALE — There’s new hope for the Talbot House.
Community Services Minister Denise Peterson-Rafuse has halted a request-for-proposals issued by her department seeking an organization to replace the Cape Breton recovery house for those with addictions.
The announcement came after a Tuesday morning meeting between Rafuse and the Talbot House board of directors.
“We still have a lot of work to do but this is a positive first step,” said board chairman Dr. John Gainer after the meeting.
Talbot House shut down in March following the resignation of an interim executive director at the facility. The interim director had been appointed after Father Paul Abbass resigned his duties running the facility due to a complaint about him by a former resident.
Cape Breton Regional Police looked into the complaint and found no grounds to continue their investigation or lay charges. Abbass, who at the time also took leave from his duties with the Diocese of Antigonish, will return to work with the diocese on Oct. 5. It is not clear if he will begin work again at the Talbot House.
The complaint prompted an operational review by the Department of Community Services that was critical of the financial practices and management of Talbot House.
For its part, the board was critical of the report – claiming it was laden with false statements and incorrect conclusions.
The Department of Community Services cut Talbot House’s $420,000 annual funding and issued a request-for-proposals for a replacement.
Tuesday’s meeting was the first between the minister and board since the war of words erupted. The disagreement between the sides has been largely played out in the media.
“The board has always acknowledged that Talbot House was not in complete compliance with department standards,” Gainer said.
“Our expectation is that going forward we can discuss the conditions under which funding will be restored and work to meet best practices and address ways in which there were shortcomings.”
For her part, Rafuse was hesitant to set timelines for a possible reopening of Talbot House.
“It’s hard to set timelines but I would be hoping it would be less than a year,” said Rafuse after Tuesday’s meeting.
Talbot House, which opened in 1959, can provide live-in services to 18 men.