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

UPDATE: Man in mid-20s killed in targeted shooting in Abbotsford

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

‘Compassion club’ operator loses bid to have pot-trafficking charges thrown out

Bob Woolsey of Mission argues that laws were not valid at the time of alleged offences

Location eyed for possible collector well

New estimate puts price tag of new water source at $81 million

Police investigate sexual assault of teen girl in Abbotsford

Incident occurred Wednesday night along Oriole Crescent

Bad behaviour to lead to expulsion at Abbotsford council

New rules lay out how a member can be booted from a meeting

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Police arrest pair after ‘high-risk vehicle takedown’

Vancouver police say replica handgun found in alleged suspects’ vehicle

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Most Read