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by Rhonda Spivak, November 15, 2011

[Editor's note: This article is being updated as more people write in responses. Please check back for updates shortly] 

Less than three weeks after numerous  members of the community at the end of the   Simkin Centre's  Annual General Meeting [AGM] on  October 25, 2011 made it clear that they were disattisfied with the current   governance process of  the Simkin Centre and  called for democratization,the Board  of the Simkin Centre has agreed to set up a committe to address those concerns.

In  an editorial published after the AGM in this publication, the Winnipeg  Jewish Review called on the Baord of the  Simkin centre to implement governance reform without delay [to read the editorial click here:]


The following is a press release issued by the Simkin Centre on November 15, 2011:

"RE: New Governance Committee

"At a meeting held on the evening of November 14, 2011, the Board of Directors of The Saul & Claribel Simkin Centre agreed unanimously to establish a new Governance Committee. The Committee is charged with the responsibility of reviewing the Centre’s current model and making recommendations to improve governance of the Centre. At the meeting, the Board requested that the committee: ensure that the review includes opportunities for stakeholder input; and specifically address the Board’s desire that the governance model include effective and appropriate processes to facilitate stakeholder input.

The Committee will be co-chaired by new Board member Jonathan Kroft, BA, LLB, LLM and four-year Board member Howard Collerman., LLB. Jonathan is a partner at Aikins Law and an active community volunteer. He is a former President of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg; former Board member of the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, Jewish Child and Family Service, and the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba; and a former member of the National Executive of Canadian Jewish Congress. Howard sat as a Provincial Court Judge for nearly thirty-three years until his retirement in 2008. He is a former President of the Manitoba Provincial Judges' Association and Chairperson of the Provincial Judges' Law Amendments Committee. Howard is also a member of the Seven Oaks General Hospital Quality and Patient Safety Committee."

'More information about the Committee and its terms of reference will be available in the coming few weeks".

When asked to comment on the  above development, Harriet Berkal, who applied to be on the Simkin Board but was left off the slate of the nominating committee and who has lead a group of  critics of the  Centre,  told the Winnipeg Jewish Review:

 "If this means that the Board is becoming receptive to altering their by-laws and incorporating a definition to include "community members" , in a democratic model such as the one that exists at Louis Brier Jewish Nursing Home in Vancouver - then we approve.

"However , who do they define as "stakeholders" and what is meant by the term "input" ? Will this allow community members to run in a democratic election for the Board or is it limiting by only allowing for "suggestions" and/or "comments" only by whomever they define as a "stakeholder"?

If the community, who are taxpayers are still being left out on the periphery - then this is inadequate. It is time to dismiss the existing autocratic system they rule by now."

Elaine Berliner, who also applied to be on the  Simkin Centre Board but was rejected said "Why has  Howard Collerman [who has been on the Board for the last four years] not pushed for these changes over the last four years?" Berliner said she believed that the Simkin Centre  Board has acted "with arrogance" up until now, and have set up this committee " because of public pressure." Berliner also indicated that in her view what is required here is not only Board reform, but other changes. Berliner says that she has lost confidence in Simkin Centre CEO Sandra Delorme, and Director of Care [and now acting co- CEO] Alanna Kull.

In an email that Alanna Kull sent to Harriet Berkal on Octboer 24, 2011 Kull indicated that her acting as  interim CEO following  Sandra Delorme's going on  medical leave would be a short term solution.

Kull wrote:

This is a short term solution. I am very aware that this is not a sustainable option with all of the work that needs to take place. The Board is committed to reviewing this in the next few weeks. If Sandra is unable to return by December, than an interim person will need to be hired.

Alan Levy, Assoc. Prof. of Human Resources and Labour relations at Brandon University, who has worked as the Vice President of  Human Resources at Baycrest care home in Toronto  and who attended the AGM at the Simkin Centre wrote in an email to the  Winnipeg Jewish Review,

 "The key for organizational change to be positive is whether the old guard will allow the necessary change to occur. Of course what is now being done is a positive move, but in regard to  organizational behavioral scholarly literature would support the notion that like Moses who was not allowed into the Holy land the old guard must go to allow the winds of change that need to come in to make the Simkin Centre a shining star in the Jewish Community once again. They [the old gaurd]  have too much invested in the way that the world use to be and their status quo notions must be left to history."

Levy adds, "I have designed many new organizations in a change management process( including one  to created the largest health care Corporation in Canada - The Toronto Hospital).It will be important that the old guard is treated respectfully and given the bridge to leave with dignity so there is no effort by them to attempt to tactically sabotage the needed

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.