October 1, 2023


Booking Travel

Executive at Manitoba Crown corporation was reimbursed for flights, hotels and more

WINNIPEG — A senior executive at a Manitoba Crown corporation was sometimes being reimbursed for travel to Winnipeg from his home in the Toronto area twice a month, figures obtained by The Canadian Press show.

The newly released detailed breakdown of expenses, which also includes hotel stays and meals, was obtained under the province’s freedom of information law and sheds more light on changes at Manitoba Public Insurance, including the departure of Siddhartha Parti.

Until this spring, Parti was the chief information and technology officer and a vice-president at the corporation.

Following his departure last month, company officials said Parti had been allowed to live in Ontario and be reimbursed for travel to Manitoba under an agreement approved by the then-chief executive officer, Eric Herbelin.

Herbelin was dismissed by the Manitoba Public Insurance board in May after a review of his workplace conduct, board chair Ward Keith said last month.

Keith added at the time that he felt the agreement that reimbursed Parti for commuting from Toronto was not acceptable. He said Parti was then asked to relocate to Manitoba but chose to resign instead.

The list of Parti’s expenses includes several thousand dollars for flights between Toronto and Winnipeg over a seven-month period. A trip to Winnipeg from Jan. 8-11 of this year included $914 in airfare. Less than two weeks later, Parti flew to Winnipeg again from Jan. 22 to 26 for $714, the document says.

Parti was also covered for hotel stays while in Winnipeg, including $990 for the late January visit and $396 for a short stay two weeks later in early February, the document says. There were at least two reimbursed visits to Winnipeg in each of January, February, March and April. Some visits also saw taxi fares and meals covered.

“These expenses were monitored and tracked in accordance with MPI’s corporate directives. As the arrangement was approved by the previous president and CEO, recovery for these expenses is not appropriate,” Kristy Rydz, the corporation’s communications manager, wrote in an email Wednesday.

“Moving forward, the board’s expectation is that all officers of the corporation are expected to reside within the province, as previously stated by the board chair, Ward Keith.”

In total, $23,500 in travel expenses was reimbursed to Parti since April of last year, the document shows, although several thousand dollars of that total were for business trips such as a meeting with Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash.

Attempts by The Canadian Press to contact Parti were not successful. Herbelin did not respond to an interview request.

Manitoba Public Insurance has faced questions and seen major changes to its leadership in recent months. Keith took over as board chair after the resignation of his predecessor, Michael Sullivan, in May.

The corporation has also faced scrutiny over the last two years, mainly over a plan called Project Nova, which is aimed at upgrading various technology platforms. The forecast cost of the project has jumped from $106 million to $290 million. Its timeline has been extended to five years from three.

There have also been questions about untendered contracts. Kelvin Goertzen, the minister responsible for MPI, cited that as one reason he ordered an external review of the corporation this spring.

That review is expected in December.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2023

Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press