Fired drug researchers press for answers

Premier Christy Clark says public inquiry too long and expensive, looking for way to get answers on botched investigation

Premier Christy Clark

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark says an independent inquiry into the firing of eight health ministry contractors may be too long and costly, but the public deserves answers in the long-running controversy “in a very timely and cost-effective way.”

The B.C. Liberal government has been on the defensive since the abrupt dismissal in 2012 of university researchers assessing drugs for eligibility under the province’s Pharmacare program. One fired contractor committed suicide, another is suing the government for wrongful dismissal and the remainder have been paid settlements and reinstated.

An independent review by labour lawyer Marcia McNeil last year failed to determine who made key decisions and why. McNeil said restricted terms of her review and a lack of documents showing the sequence of decisions left her unable to determine accountability.

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.

After Clark downplayed the suggestion of a public inquiry in Vancouver this week, NDP leader John Horgan said her actions indicate the government has something to hide.

“We need to be able to compel testimony,” Horgan said. “We need to ensure that we’re protecting those public servants who might have something to say about this process.”

The affected employees released an open letter to Health Minister Terry Lake this week, calling for an inquiry that covers the legal costs of everyone affected. They said the program to assess the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs has saved B.C. more than $100 million over the past 20 years.

Horgan said the opposition will continue its campaign for answers when the B.C. legislature convenes July 13 to consider a development agreement for a liquefied natural gas export facility at Prince Rupert.

 

Just Posted

Setting the stage for emerging performers

Variety fundraiser and ongoing open-mics showcase local talent

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

Surrey resident says proposed apartment building is a ‘monstrosity’ in Whalley neighbourhood

Philip Galbraith says he voted for Safe Surrey Coalition to ‘slow down development’

Man ‘seriously’ injured in crash after driving wrong way on Highway 17: Surrey RCMP

Police say the sedan hit a transport truck, then another car

Easter ‘eggstravaganza’ event planned for South Surrey

Event is to run from 12-3 p.m. at Dufferin Park (17355 2 Ave.).

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

Multiple people injured after deck collapses during celebration

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Rats available for adoption in Vancouver

In a social media post the City of Vancouver says you can adopt a rat for $5.

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Crews battle Burnaby blaze; 2 people sent to hospital

Emergency Support Services helping residents displaced by fire

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Most Read