Three months after an expense scandal that brought down the top two executives at the IWK Health Centre, Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservatives are questioning why the province’s seats on the board remain empty.
“I’d like to see the vacancies filled as soon as possible,” Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, Progressive Conservative MLA and opposition health critic, told reporters on Tuesday.
“We’ve certainly seen some challenges with our IWK board and I think the minister should be making that a priority.”
The board was created to oversee the region’s only children’s hospital in April 2015, under the reorganization of the provincial health authorities.
The province’s two seats on the board have sat empty since then.
The lack of a provincial representative on the board was brought into sharp focus after an independent audit showed the board didn’t follow expense protocols when vetting and approving former CEO Tracy Kitch’s expense claims.
Kitch resigned in August and was forced to pay back $47,273.32 in expenses inappropriately billed to the hospital. The scandal also brought down the hospital’s chief financial officer Stephen D’Arcy.
Smith-McCrossin raised the issue at the legislature’s human resources committee where MLAs approve appointments to agencies, boards and commissions.
In response, committee chair Ben Jessome said he couldn’t be “specific on a timeline” for the appointments to the IWK board.
Health department spokesperson Tracy Barron said 11 applicants are being vetted for the openings.
“The Minister will make a decision once the process is complete, with appointments expected in the new year,” Barron said in an email.
Prior to the call for applications in September, the health department had 11 applications on file for the IWK board positions. Barron said all but two of those applications expired because they are only kept for two years.
She said the health department received nine new applications in 2017, six of them were sent in after September.
Smith-McCrossin said she is “surprised” that the positions haven’t been filled yet.
“It matters because… right now government doesn’t have a voice at the table,” she said.
Halifax Regional Police and the provincial auditor general are both conducting probes into the expense scandal.