April 6, 2017, Victoria, BC: B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke released his investigation report today, titled Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters. The Ombudsperson investigation began in September 2015. Almost 4.7 million records were obtained, and 130 witnesses provided evidence under oath during 540 hours of interviews. The Ombudsperson investigation found that flawed investigations and rushed decision making resulted in key government officials taking action that had far-reaching and harmful consequences.
The Therapeutics Initiative hopes that the lessons learned from this experience will encourage government to make a strong long-term commitment to drug safety in B.C. and we look forward to being an important part of that effort.
The Ombudsperson investigation into the 2012 Ministry of Health dismissals found that the affected individuals did not deserve the significant personal, financial, and professional harm they suffered. The Ombudsperson investigation also found that senior government officials suspended or terminated a number of ministry contracts without adequate reason for doing so. As a result, many people associated with ministry research had their livelihoods seriously impacted. The far-reaching ministry investigation also resulted in a number of impacts on public health research, evaluation, health education initiatives and analysis that the ministry was supporting in 2012.
By examining the negative effects on these people’s lives and careers, as well the underlying problems in public administration, the Ombudsperson’s investigation led to 41 recommendations meant to address the harm done to individuals, and strengthen B.C.’s public service. Individual recommendations include that government make ex gratia “goodwill” payments to affected individuals. The payments, ranging from $15,000 to $125,000, would in some cases be accompanied by personal written apologies from government. The Ombudsperson is also recommending that government honour the memory of Roderick MacIsaac by funding a $500,000 University of Victoria endowment for a scholarship. Some systemic recommendations in the report are specifically aimed at preventing the events described in the report from recurring, including two recommendations relating to new legislation to strengthen public confidence in the administration of public affairs. Other recommendations are aimed at remedying some of the broader impacts of the investigation, including ways to strengthen morale and improve the culture in the Ministry of Health.