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BC Politics

Key Figure in Botched Health Firings Investigation Leaves Public Service

Lindsay Kislock had an oversight role in probe that led to wrongful firings.

Andrew MacLeod 20 Jun

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative bureau chief in Victoria and the author of A Better Place on Earth: The Search for Fairness in Super Unequal British Columbia (Harbour Publishing, 2015). Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

A key figure in the investigation that led to the botched B.C. health ministry firings five years ago has now left the public service.

Lindsay Kislock was an assistant deputy minister of health in 2012. She had an oversight role in the investigation that resulted in the wrongful firing of seven people, one of whom committed suicide a few months after being fired.

In early June, Kislock resigned from the ministry of transportation and infrastructure, where she’d been the assistant deputy minister in charge of the partnerships division.

“For me it is also a time of change,” she wrote in an email to colleagues in transportation. “I have had a wonderful 25 year career in the BC public service, working in [eight] ministries... There is never a perfect time to leave, but for me this is the time.”

The Mining Association of BC announced June 12 that Kislock had become the industry group’s new vice-president of corporate affairs.

“Lindsay brings extensive public policy and senior management experience to her new role,” the announcement said.

The health ministry firings resulted in five wrongful dismissal and defamation lawsuits that were settled out of court, apologies from Premier Christy Clark and the head of the public service, a union grievance process, some of the employees returning to work and two major reports.

In April Ombudsperson Jay Chalke’s office released a 487-page report on the firings, “Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters.”

The report confirmed that the firings were “wrong and unjust” but advised against firing the people who were responsible who still worked for the government.

“The ministry did not have sufficient evidentiary basis to dismiss any of the employees for just cause,” the report said. “We determined that none of the dismissed employees engaged in conduct sufficient to support their terminations.”

The report recommended paying compensation to the fired employees and to contractors who lost work as a result of the investigation. It also recommended establishing a scholarship in the name of Roderick MacIsaac who committed suicide a few months after being fired from a co-op position.

In 2012, Kislock was put in charge of the investigation along with two other health assistant deputy ministers, Barbara Walman and Manjit Sidhu. On May 31, 2012, the three officials approved the terms of reference for the investigation that would lead to the terminations.

Kislock’s name is mentioned 133 times in Chalke’s report. As the assistant deputy minister responsible for Health Sector Information Management and Information Technology, she was responsible for decisions regarding data access.

Her name was on the suspension letter to at least one of the employees, she delivered that person his termination letter, and she signed letters to dozens of contractors telling them their data access had been suspended.

The Ombudsperson’s report says Kislock decided early in the review process that one of the employees was “breaking the law,” though there was no evidence that was true.

An earlier report on the firings prepared for the Public Service Agency by employment lawyer Marcia McNeil made a dozen findings, one of which noted that the investigators did not conduct the investigation with open minds.

Reporters asked Kim Henderson, the deputy minister to Premier Clark and head of the B.C. Public Service, in April whether anyone would lose their job as a result of Chalke’s findings.

“There is advice for me in the Ombudsperson’s report that suggests there be no further recriminations, that the time for that is past,” she said. “I need to consider that advice.”  [Tyee]

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