Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Health Minister Wants Ombudsperson to Investigate Firings of Eight Workers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Health Minister Wants Ombudsperson to Investigate Firings of Eight Workers

Article excerpt

B.C. calls for investigation into health firings

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VICTORIA - British Columbia's government has launched its second public review, but has stopped short of calling a full independent inquiry, into a long-running scandal that saw eight health researchers fired, one of whom took his own life.

Health Minister Terry Lake said Friday another review of the firings is appropriate but rejected an inquiry.

He said he favours a review by the Office of the Ombudsperson, which is mandated to address government fairness, but noted that public inquiries are often costly and lengthy.

The workers or their families have since received government apologies, reached out-of-court settlements, are back at their jobs or are pursuing court actions against the government. The body of doctoral candidate Roderick MacIsaac was found in his home in January 2013.

"The key players will be compelled to be interviewed by the Ombudsperson," said Lake. "It's clear that's within his duties."

He said he wants an investigation into the events leading up to the decision to terminate the employees and the actions taken by the government afterwards.

Lake also rejected the New Democrats' concerns that newly appointed Ombudsperson Jay Chalke could be in a perceived conflict of interest due to his previous employment as the head of a Ministry of Justice branch from 2011 to 2015.

"It's about the office," said Lake. "It's not about the individual. His job is to be the Ombudsperson, and this kind of review certainly falls within the purview of his office. …

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