B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Whistleblower law protects public employees, B.C. Ombudsperson says

Fired health researchers case prompts new protection for reporting

B.C.’s new law protecting public employees who report concerns of wrongdoing is in place, giving Ombudsperson Jay Chalke a mandate to conduct “whistleblowing” investigations.

The Public Interest Disclosure Act, in effect Dec. 1, is for situations where employees don’t want to report their concerns internally to their employers, Chalke said Sunday. The B.C. Ombudsperson office can now handle complaints, and determine if employees have experienced reprisals for raising concerns.

“Having a legal framework that allows public employees to speak up about wrongdoing helps ensure accountability, transparency and integrity in government,”Chalke said. “I am confident that with the expertise of the investigative staff and policies that are in place at my office, both disclosers and those who have allegations made against them will be treated fairly.”

Chalke told the B.C. legislature finance committee in October he expects an increased workload, particularly since the public learned of ongoing investigations into travel and other spending by now-retired senior legislature administrators Craig James and Gary Lenz.

RELATED: Ombudsperson tapped to probe B.C. health firings

RELATED: Legislature gifts, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

The new law grew out of a 2012 case where eight contracted health researchers were fired over allegations that they had misused provincial medical data in assessing drugs for coverage by B.C.’s Pharmacare program. The allegations of conflict of interest were eventually dropped, and the fired researchers were paid settlements and reinstated. One researcher, a graduate student at UBC, committed suicide after being removed from the drug assessment project.

In 2014, an independent investigation by labour lawyer Marcia McNeil could not determine who made key decisions and why. McNeil said restricted terms and a lack of documents showing the sequence of decisions left her unable to determine accountability.

In 2015, former health minister Terry Lake asked Chalke, a former assistant deputy minister of justice, to lead a full-scale review that led to the new legislation.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Several Abbotsford schools record COVID-19 exposures in October

Two secondary schools, one middle school and two elementary schools have virus exposure

Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival cancelled – for good

Organizers say the event was so popular that too many people were attending to be sustainable

Bateman’s Olafsen commits to Windsor Lancers football program

Timberwolves all-star heading to Ontario in 2021, moving from defence to offence

Apartment fire on Sunday displaces 82 Mission residents

Extensive damage to fifth floor, fire not considered suspicious at this time

FVRD to reopen corporate office on a limited basis

Fraser Valley Regional District visitors will be screened and asked to maintain physical distancing

‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Most Read