Michael Marchbank is the new president and CEO of the Fraser Health Authority.

Fraser Health gets new president

Longtime provincial health administrator takes top job at health authority

A longtime B.C. health administrator is taking charge of the Fraser Health Authority and its $3.1-billion budget.

Michael Marchbank will be the health region’s new president and CEO effective Jan. 2.

He replaces former president Dr. Nigel Murray, who resigned in June to return to New Zealand as the province was set to unveil reforms at Fraser. Dr. David Ostrow had been acting as interim CEO since then.

Marchbank – who will be paid $345,000 a year at Fraser, significantly less than Murray’s total remuneration of $444,000 – is currently president and CEO of the Health Employers’ Association of B.C., which coordinates labour negotiations for the health regions.

He has also served as the government’s point man on other issues, most notably over the past year when he was picked to replace school trustees overseeing the B.C. Public School Employers Association in contract bargaining with the B.C. Teachers Federation. At that time, the education minister said the appointment was to let the BCTF bargain directly with the government.

Marchbank’s previous positions include chief operating officer of the Provincial Health Services Authority and president and CEO of the Fraser Valley Health Region in the 1990s before the current health authorities were created.

He arrives as Fraser tries to implement recommendations of a government-ordered strategic review, which targeted new ways to cut unnecessary use of hospital emergency rooms in favour of improved primary and community care.

A key challenge will be keeping the health region’s spending within government-approved increases in the face of a growing and aging population.

Fraser Health’s board confirmed the appointment Tuesday.

“We believe Michael Marchbank has a very good balance between a passion to deliver good patient care and a passion to administer an organization and keep it aligned with the budget that the minister have given us,” board chair Karen Matty said.

She rejected suggestions he is Victoria’s choice, adding the board chose Marchbank over other contenders due to his extensive experience and local roots.

“He is absolutely the board’s man,” Matty said. “He’s got a good knowledge of health care in B.C. He also lives within the Fraser region and at one point worked in Fraser Health.”

Matty was appointed board chair last month, replacing Wynne Powell, who had served as interim chair since the province decided in April to remove chair David Mitchell.