November 27, 2014 2:10 am
Updated: November 27, 2014 6:41 pm

Former head of BC Cancer Agency’s salary topped up with donated money

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WATCH: The BC Cancer Agency is under fire for using charity donations to top up the salary of its former CEO. Keith Baldrey reports.

The salary of the now-resigned CEO of the BC Cancer Agency is under scrutiny after it was revealed that it was partially funded by donated money.

It turns out $75,000 a year of Dr. Max Coppes’ $561,000 salary was coming from donations to the BC Cancer Foundation, the fundraising arm of the organization.

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Coppes, who held the job since 2012, resigned last week after growing criticism over poor morale and patient wait times.

The decision to use charity money for his salary is being called ‘questionable’ by B.C.’s Health Minister and raising worries that people will be put off from donating.

“I think personally that is a questionable kind of practice,” says Health Minister Terry Lake. “There is a sense we need to recruit worldwide when we have some really great people here in Canada.”

“People donate to the BC Cancer Foundation because they want to cure cancer or in memory of a loved one who died of cancer,” says NDP Health Critic Judy Darcy. “I think people are frankly horrified that money that they donated for cancer is going to top of the salary of a CEO who is already making many times bigger than what the ordinary British Columbian makes.”

Doug Nelson, President and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation, says they were approached by the Provincial Health Services Authority to top up Coppes’ salary in order to “provide support for the recruitment of an international leader.”

“When we were approached we were pleased to be a part of making sure our agency here in B.C. had the tools and the leadership it needs to be that world-leading place we know it to be,” says Nelson.

He says the BC Cancer Agency has been “entirely transparent” and there’s been no attempts to conceal the salary top-up — it has been reported in the agency’s disclosures and financial statements for the past two years.

“We will continue to find ways to support the brilliant men and women at the BC Cancer Agency,” says Nelson. “We are committed to making sure we are changing the face of cancer in British Columbia.”

WATCH: The Canadian Cancer Society is worried that the controversy and confusion over BC Cancer Agency will impact its donations. Linda Aylesworth has more.

In 2013, Lynda Cranston resigned as CEO of the Provincial Health Services Authority after it was revealed she had approved 118 wage increases for managers, including at the BC Cancer Agency, in contravention of government policy.

The BC Cancer Foundation has not issued an official statement but has been active on twitter throughout the day, responding to tweets:

 

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