B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. (Submitted)

Watchdog praises changes made so far after B.C.’s health worker misfirings scandal

Ombusperson Jay Chalke gives an update on the recommendations he made following the 2012 misfirings

The B.C. government has implemented most of a watchdog’s recommendations stemming from the misfiring of seven health ministry employees in 2012, a report released Tuesday said.

Last year, the Liberal government apologized for the “flawed investigation and rushed decision” that lead to the firings of seven health ministry researchers who were assessing drugs for eligibility under the province’s Pharmacare program.

The health ministry initially said a confidential database of B.C. patients who had taken various drugs had been misused, and some of the researchers appeared to have conflicts of interest.

READ MORE: Cash, apologies coming for fired health researchers

READ MORE: B.C. set to close ‘gaps’ in ministry research six years after health researcher firings

A 2017 report released by Ombudsperson Jay Chalke made 41 recommendations that broadly covered public and individual apologies, ex-gratia payments returning personal possession and better protection for whistleblowers.

On Tuesday, Chalke said 37 of those recommendations have been brought in, including a $500,000 University of Victoria scholarship set up for health worker Roderick MacIsaac, who committed suicide after being fired.

“The effort and collaboration required to make these important improvements in the public service has been very significant and I am heartened by the progress to date,” said Chalke. “Taken together, these steps help mitigate the risk that the series of events in 2012 could reoccur.”

The four outstanding recommendations are assessing the financial impact on employees who were disciplined but not fired; finalizing payments to contractors; implementing recommendations related to the settlement terms of reopened grievances of the fired bargaining unit employees; and continuing to create a more positive workplace culture at the Ministry of Health.


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