October 30, 2018 7:14 pm

B.C.’s Ombudsperson says government doing well at implementing recommendations following health firings

Ombudsperson Jay Chalke releases his report into the terminations of Ministry of Health employees in 2012 during a press conference in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, April 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito


British Columbia’s Ombudperson says the provincial government has addressed most of the recommendations following a report into the firing of eight Ministry of Health workers, but still has work to do on key commitments.

The province agreed to implement all 41 recommendations put forward by Jay Chalke in the 2017 Ombudsperson report.

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“The effort and collaboration required to make these important improvements in the public service has been very significant and I am heartened by the progress to date,” said Chalke. “Taken together, these steps help mitigate the risk that the series of events in 2012 could reoccur.”

READ MORE: B.C. health firings a ‘dark chapter:’ report

In 2012, seven government health workers and a contract employee were fired because of a flawed and rushed investigation. Chalke’s report found that the employees did not deserve the personal, financial and professional harm they suffered.

WATCH HERE: Health firings report released

One of Chalke’s recommendations was to create a University of Victoria scholarship in memory of MacIsaac. It is now in place.
The government has also apologized and offered good will payments to those who have been impacted. The province has also developed new policies focusing on a number of areas, including conflict of interest and approach to human resource investigations and outcomes.
“These are very important steps that government has taken to make sure it is acting in a manner that is accountable and transparent, both to its own employees, but also to the public,” said Chalke. “What I’d like to see now, and I know work is underway, is that the remaining recommendations also be implemented.”

WATCH HERE: Presser: Christy Clark on the Ombudsman’s involvement in health ministry firings inquiry

There are four substantive recommendations that have still not been acted upon. Three of those recommendations include payments, including for those disciplined by the Ministry of Health. According to the ombudsperson, the work is nearing completion but is not yet finished.
The final recommendation that has not yet been finished is the implementation of the efforts to create a more positive workplace culture at the Ministry of Health. The process to improve the workplace kicked off last year, but is still a work is progress.
Health Minister Adrian Dix worked very closely with those fired and their families while serving in opposition. He says he is ‘proud’ of the work being done by the ministry to improve the culture.

“What the report found was that these people were inappropriately fired without evidence and without legitimacy. Obviously that had a profound effect on the place. There is real trauma to use a common word we use now,” said Dix. “To address that it will be a test every day for us.

“I would expect it to be a work in progress for us to keep going. I would expect we will work on it every day I am minister.”

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