By Serge Langlois, Executive Director
There have been many challenges over the past few years, including those pertaining to governance, interorganizational relations, funding, union relations and national and international positioning, to name but a few. When I took office on February 1, 2017, the organizational chart did not reflect that there were many vacancies to fill and a management team to reconstitute. At that time, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops had also frankly conveyed to me their dissatisfaction with their relationship with our organization. They thought that we did not communicate with them adequately and, as a result, felt that they were being deliberately and intentionally sidelined.
And about our organization’s financial health, the less said the better. It was deteriorating because of a structural deficit that had persisted year after year, threatening to lead us to a disastrous fate if no solution was found quickly.
I came with a professional background in which I had been fortunate enough to work for several years as vice president of the International Diabetes Federation and president of its North America and Caribbean Region; with the United Nations; and the World Health Organization, among others. I had therefore experienced and been involved in relief work after many disasters over the years. I also knew and appreciated the tremendous work done in and the significant impact upon the communities supported by Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada’s partners.
The road we have travelled over the past five years has been fraught with many pitfalls. Yet, always and against all odds, it was important that we stood up for our values and convictions. We had to set our egos aside and invest ourselves in finding solutions for Development and Peace and its partners. Today, I am proud of the work we have accomplished. The achievements of the past few years are a testament to the many positive outcomes that are now the reality of our organization.
We now have a management team that boasts a high level of expertise and enjoys great professional and personal cohesion and fellowship. The human resources climate is healthy and positive and union relations are good and transparent. We have agreed on a new collective agreement in harmony and mutual respect, for which I am very grateful. Relations with the bishops are now consistent and a sense of trust has been restored.
Our sources of self-financing and philanthropy are growing, and the Solidarity Fund, now worth nearly $10 million, will generate a significant annual income to support our activities. Our position within Caritas Internationalis is secure, including our participation in the RepCo (representative council) and internal committees. The recurring structural deficit will be a thing of the past because we have successfully undergone a year of transition. We are now in a consolidation stage that will ensure our future financial security, without a deficit, so we can fund projects and programs with our international partners.
It was with pride in this record that I informed the national council of my intention to not seek another five-year term as executive director of Development and Peace.
As you know, I have dedicated myself without tallying hours or effort, because the values and mission of Development and Peace are close to my heart and part of my deepest convictions for a more equitable world that hears and responds concretely to the cry of the poor.
I wish Development and Peace the best for its future, and I thank the members of the national council and the entire management team for their support and involvement over the past five years. I also salute and thank all the members of the Development and Peace family who make it possible every day for us to achieve our vision and mission, despite the obstacles and setbacks along the way. To all of you, I offer my sincerest tributes and say goodbye, but not for good.
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada