NEWS
03/21/2014 02:31 EDT | Updated 05/21/2014 05:59 EDT

NDP MLA Jenny Kwan to repay $34K for Europe, Disney trips

NDP MLA Jenny Kwan says she has repaid more than $34,000 in expenses for two trips she and her family took to Bristol and Vienna, and to Disneyland that were paid for by the Portland Hotel Society.

In an emotional appearance this morning in Vancouver, Kwan said she trusted her husband Dan Small, who was a director with the Portland Hotel Society, that he had paid for the family's personal expenses when they accompanied him on a business trip in 2012.

She said he also told him he personally had paid for an upgrade during a family trip to Disneyland, which she had originally paid for herself.

When asked why she did not question the expenses at the time, she said, "I trusted him. In a relationship there is a element of trust."

Kwan and her husband are now separated and have filed for divorce. She said she talked to him to try to get clarification on his handling of the expenses, but has been unable to get a clear answer.

She also said she now plans to take an unpaid leave of absence to spend an undetermined amount of time with her family.

"My first priority is to be with my children," she said.

The non-profit Portland Hotel Society runs several operations for homeless people and drug addicts on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, including the Insite supervised drug injection facility.

Expenses not paid by government: PHS

The trips were part of several questionable expenses uncovered in a government audit of the society. Its directors and board resigned Tuesday after the government issued an ultimatum to step down or it would pull the non-profit's government funding.

The audit released this week found the Vancouver group spent thousands of dollars on lavish hotels, limousine rides, expensive dinners and a trip to a Disneyland resort.

Separate financial reviews examining expenses by the Portland Hotel Society — which runs Canada's only supervised injection site — have uncovered alleged misuse of corporate credit cards, unsupported expenses and inadequate criminal record checks.

The audit report released on Thursday also detailed over $8,600 spent on limousine rides last year and a stay in a British hotel that cost almost $900 per night.

The society's co-executive director Mark Townsend said none of the expenses in question were paid for with government or program money. He said the expenses in question were paid for out of the society's administrative fund.

"You have to understand the vast majority of these expenses are non-government expenses, they are from private foundations and their purpose is education or speaking at conferences and they're all funded by non-government money and they are part of the wider work we do," Townsend said 

The Disneyland trip was a way of rewarding the hard work performed by Kwan's former partner because the society doesn't offer traditional health and overtime benefits, he said.

The Portland Hotel Society runs Insite, which is Canada's only stand-alone supervised injection site for drug users, and a number of social housing and support facilities in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

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