B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake.

Ombudsperson tapped to probe health firings

Government stops short of full public inquiry, NDP calls concession a 'positive step'

Health Minister Terry Lake has asked B.C’s Ombudsperson to lead an investigation into the government’s firing of eight contracted health researchers in 2012.

The province has been under fire for weeks for deflecting demands for a full public inquiry into what it has admitted was a mistake.

Criticism intensified after the release of RCMP documents that undermined government claims the researchers were under active investigation by police into a possible data security breach.

Six of the eight university researchers who were assessing pharmaceutical drugs for Pharmacare coverage have been paid settlements and reinstated, one is suing the government for wrongful dismissal and another committed suicide.

Lake said in a statement he shared the “ongoing public interest and concern” and believed new Ombudsperson Jay Chalke is the right choice to investigate further.

The surviving researchers and the family of the deceased have demanded a full public inquiry, but the premier has said that’s problematic due to privacy issues and potential high costs.

Lake said he is asking the Ombudsperson to “investigate the events leading up to the decision to terminate the employees, the decision to terminate itself, and the actions taken by government following the terminations, in addition to any other matters he may deem worthy of investigation.”

An independent review last year failed when the labour lawyer leading it said she was stymied by restrictive terms of reference.

NDP leader John Horgan called the decision to bring in the Ombudsperson a “positive step” and a major concession by the government that more investigation is needed.

He said Opposition MLAs on the committee that oversees the Ombudsperson will fight for broad terms of reference to determine who ordered the firings and why.

Chalke is a former assistant deputy minister of justice. Horgan said the NDP will also demand full disclosure of any involvement he had in the issue to ensure there’s no perception of conflict of interest.

Just Posted

Development permit issued for four-storey apartment on Dogwood Street

Proposed 63-unit building will include water conservation measures

Mark Chandler running for City of Parksville councillor

Chandler will focus on affordable housing, fiscal responsibility, economic growth and crime

New data gives insight into Parksville Qualicum Beach-area homeless community

42 without homes agree to take survey on gender, age, health, length of time in community

Parksville singer to celebrate birthday with concert

Robbie Van looking to raise money for Haven Society

Mt. Washington season passholders to be the first to receive the new tech in-hand

The new hands-free tech will be in full effect for winter 2018-19

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

Most Read