More CannTrust Personnel Depart as Changes at Company Continue After Health Canada Violations

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CANNABIS More CannTrust personnel depart as changes at company continue after Health Canada violations Departures come as a number of current and former employees allege a management shakeup last fall was beginning of major shift in company’s workplace culture By Vanmala Subramaniam August 20, 2019 0 Comments An employee displays a cannabis bud for a photograph at the CannTrust Holding Inc. Niagara Perpetual Harvest facility in Pelham, Ont., in July 2018. Cole Burston/Bloomberg files

At least three senior employees at embattled cannabis producer CannTrust Holdings Inc. have departed from their roles at the company, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

The company’s master grower Brady Green, operations manager Cameron Fletcher and vice-president of quality operations Andrea Kirk are three of the employees that are no longer with CannTrust. Sources say the departures were announced internally Tuesday morning.

CannTrust spokesperson Jane Shapiro did not confirm if the employees were let go, who they were, or if they departed on their own volition but acknowledged that a “number of departures” had taken place at the company, which employs just under 800 staff.

Shapiro said the company had also added two new employees to its senior leadership team: Dan Hogan as CannTrust’s head of strategic priorities and Ken Doige as vice-president of security.

“These appointments are part of a broader organizational transformation, which has included a number of departures and the reassignment of roles and responsibilities,” Shapiro said in an emailed response to the Post.

Hogan was most recently chief executive of online luggage and handbag retailer eBags and was previously chief financial and operating officer at The Coleman Outdoor Co., the same company where Robert Marcovitch, the current interim chief executive of CannTrust, was formerly CEO.

Doige comes from the cannabis industry, where he was vice-president of compliance and risk management at cannabis retailer Fire and Flower.

The personnel who are no longer with CannTrust had been running key divisions of the company’s operations.

Green’s LinkedIn page states that he had been with CannTrust since 2014, starting out as a grower and rising up to lead the cannabis cultivation program.

Fletcher joined the company in 2014 as a grower, moving up over the course of five years to become director of operations at CannTrust’s British Columbia outdoor cultivation facility, which is still in the process of obtaining Health Canada licensing.

Kirk was brought into the company in March 2019 with a mandate to “improve quality and compliance” under a newly created role of vice-president, quality. Kirk had hired and trained 17 quality and compliance professionals to beef up CannTrust’s overall corporate governance, according to a company press release on July 8, just days after Health Canada discovered unlicensed activities taking place at the company.

Green, Fletcher and Kirk did not respond to requests for comment regarding their departures.

CannTrust had previously said it fired chief executive Peter Aceto and forced the resignation of founder and chairman Eric Paul.

The departures come as a number of current and former employees allege that a management shakeup last fall was the beginning of a major shift in the company’s workplace culture, one that saw a drive towards increased productivity “at all costs,” and the overall deterioration in communication between upper management and workers at the company’s Pelham, Ont., facility.

Seven current and former CannTrust employees who spoke to the Financial Post on the condition of anonymity say that the Pelham facility — where the majority of CannTrust’s cannabis cultivation takes place — became “disorganized and chaotic” with no clear chain of command when former company president Brad Rogers and head of production Michael Ravensdale left the company last November. The company was left to a group of “young, inexperienced growers calling the shots,” they say.

Four of those employees — who earned just slightly above minimum wage — also say they worked longer hours once Ravensdale and Roger left the company and often had to come in on weekends or days off to complete their designated tasks.

CannTrust is being investigated by Health Canada for a number of regulatory violations including unlicensed growing at its Pelham facility and storing product in unlicensed areas at its Vaughan, Ont., headquarters.

The company, which is also being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission, has lost almost 60 per cent of its stock value since the scandal first began. The stock declined trading 3.2 per cent down to $2.60 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

“When we had Michael Ravensdale at that greenhouse, it ran perfectly. He knew what he was doing, he knew all his employees by name, and we honestly loved working there,” said one former employee who worked at Pelham.

Another former employee said that she felt like she had “direct access” to Rogers and Ravensdale, who would almost always respond to emails sent by lower-level employees about any issues that were taking place at the greenhouse.

“They really cared, I could tell. I felt like I did not know who my boss was when Michael (Ravensdale) left,” she said. “There was kind of a power vacuum.”

The employee said Green, who used to report to Ravensdale, was asked to “step up and run the place” after the management reshuffle.

“He played favourites. If you weren’t a member of his inner circle, you weren’t getting any favours or appreciation for the work you would do,” the employee said.

Her description was corroborated by six of the seven employees who spoke to the Post, all of whom, at one point or another, worked with Green at the Pelham facility.

Read the full article here.

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