Ombudsperson to review drug researcher firings

Jay Chalke's office exempted from confidentiality agreements, NDP agrees to his independent probe into reason for dismissals

B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke

B.C.’s new Ombudsperson has been given extra authority to investigate the case of eight ministry of health researchers whose work on drug effectiveness was terminated three years ago.

The B.C. government passed amendments Tuesday to allow Ombudsperson Jay Chalke to review the case that has had the government on the defensive since the abrupt dismissal of university researchers in 2012.

The researchers were assessing drugs for eligibility under the province’s Pharmacare program. 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.

One fired contractor committed suicide, another is suing the government for wrongful dismissal and the remainder have been paid confidential settlements and reinstated. The government has since apologized for the way the contractors were treated, but reasons for the firings and why they were reversed have not been made clear.

Chalke, a former public trustee appointed Ombudsperson this spring, said he would take the case if confidentiality agreements didn’t prevent him from reviewing documents and getting answers from those involved.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton presented changes to the Ombudsperson Act to exempt the office from confidentiality agreements for this case, and the changes passed the legislature with unanimous consent in under an hour Tuesday.

After an independent labour lawyer was unable to compel testimony from senior health ministry officials, Premier Christy Clark rejected opposition calls for an independent inquiry.

Health Minister Terry Lake referred the issue to the Ombudsperson, and NDP critics agreed to the move after changes were made to give Chalke the authority he needs.

 

Just Posted

Cannings to pedal through South Okanagan — West Kootenay riding

MP leaves from Nakusp on Aug. 23 and ends in Kaleden on Aug. 29.

UPDATED: MV Balfour ferry returns to service

The 65-year-old ferry had been out of action for a month

Rossland council urges minister to kill Jumbo Glacier Resort project

Mayor writes letter panning ski resort on environmental, legal, and economic grounds

Contempt charge against Balfour logging protesters dropped on technicality

A B.C. Supreme Court justice ruled Cooper Creek Cedar failed to file a contempt application

RCMP renew request for help finding missing Nakusp man

Christopher Sanford was reported missing Aug. 5

VIDEO: Facebook rolls out tool to block off-Facebook data gathering

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago

B.C. rainbow crosswalk covered in mysterious black substance

Black substance spilled intentionally near Vancouver Island school and difficult to remove

RCMP originally planned to arrest Meng Wanzhou on plane, defence lawyers say

The allegations have not been proven in court. Meng was arrested Dec. 1 at Vancouver airport at the behest of the U.S.

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Ethics commissioner ready to testify on Trudeau, SNC-Lavalin: NDP critic

A new poll suggests the report hasn’t so far hurt the Liberals’ chances of re-election this fall

Inflation hits Bank of Canada 2% target for second straight month

Prices showed strength in other areas, including an 18.9 per cent increase in the cost of fresh vegetables

Pregnant teachers fight to change WorkSafeBC compensation rules

Agency does not recognize risk to unborn babies when mother catches illness from work

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

Most Read