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

‘Kim’s Convenience’ keeps Surrey actor busy when not working as church pastor in Guildford

Award-nominated James Yi will again play shop owner at Surrey Arts Centre next winter

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in South Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Hazmat team called to Surrey recycling centre

Witness at scene said several workers reported affects including coughing, headaches and chest tightness

South Surrey woman excited to ‘tell the world Canada is open for business’

Aashina Singh aims to promote Metro Vancouver companies in Singapore and Malaysia

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Most Read