Health authority CEO removed after giving pay hikes to 118 senior managers

The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) president and CEO resigned after it was discovered salary increases were given to senior management in the organization without the knowledge or approval of its board of directors.

The pay raises are for 118 senior managers in total, and will cost $621,000 this year.

They were approved on May 17 by Lynda Cranston, who had ran the PHSA since 2002. But after the board became aware of the increase on Tuesday, she was forced to apologize for the raises that went against a government promise to freeze wages for all managers and executives across the public sector.

“She explained what went wrong, how she had authorized it, how it had been a mistake,” said PHSA board chair Wynne Powell. “We’ve lost a very skilled individual. But she signed off approval of these wages, and as a result she put the board in a position where we had to act.

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“I’m very disappointed, because here was a consummate professional,” he added.

Cranston had been the first and only CEO PHSA, which is responsible for working with the five regional health authorities to deliver high-quality specialized services, along with operating specific services including trauma and chest surgery. She will stay on to help the organization transition until her formal retirement at the end of July, but receive no formal severance.

Powell said they would attempt to reverse the pay increases handed out.

“Given that some of the increases violated government guidelines, the board is reviewing its legal options for addressing the raises which were not in compliance. The Board will also meet in the days ahead to review measures that can be implemented to ensure this situation does not occur in the future.”

According to Powell, the board was not immediately aware of the raises because they fell within guidelines for compensation increases that do not ordinarily require board disclosure.

However, the raises contravened a government decision last fall to freeze wages for all public sector managers and executives.

Health Minister Terry Lake voiced his support for the PHSA’s decision, saying he was “disappointed to learn that the wage policy of government was not followed.”

“The provincial government entrusts health authorities with the delivery of quality health care to British Columbians and expects budgetary direction to be followed,” he said in a release.

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“It is important for all British Columbians to have confidence that the finite health dollars we have available during these difficult economic times are directed where they belong – into front-line care.”

In 2011-2013, Cranston received a salary of $351,008 in salary – one of five people in the organization to make more than $250,000.

The news comes just two days after Premier Christy Clark reversed a decision to give pay hikes to top political staff.

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