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

Kootenay Lake ferry to shut down Saturday afternoon

Service to resume Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m.

PHOTOS: Nelson climate strike packs downtown to demand action

An inter-generational crowd staged a ‘die-in’ as part of the global strike Friday

PLACE NAMES: Warfield neighbourhoods

Beaver Bend took its name from a CBC Radio series

Woman stabbed in downtown Nelson

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Kootenay-Columbia incumbent MP responds to Trudeau brownface scandal

Stetski proud of NDP leader Singh’s reaction, which focused on people not power

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Most Read