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Mark Says Job Eliminated, But Rep’s Office Later Advertised Same Position

Opposition seeks answers on severance paid in months before 2016 byelection.

By Andrew MacLeod 5 Oct 2017 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark said her position with the Representative for Children and Youth was eliminated in March 2015, but a job with a nearly identical title was advertised days after she won a byelection 11 months later.

“In 2013, the mandate of the representative’s office changed when they included advocacy for young adults, to advocate for young people receiving services from Community Living BC,” Mark said during question period in the legislature Wednesday.

“In that time, there was a massive change of the organization, which triggered a corporate restructuring,” she said. “As part of the corporate restructuring, my position was eliminated in 2015, and I received severance.”

The Tyee reported Wednesday that Mark received $105,792 in the 11 months after she stopped working for the representative’s office. Severance payments are only normally available to employees who are terminated without cause and not to anyone who leaves voluntarily.

At the time of the byelection, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, then head of the office, said “Melanie left the representative’s office in March 2015 to pursue other job opportunities.”

“I had the great pleasure of working with her for over eight years… I can just say she chose to leave to work on new opportunities,” Turpel-Lafond said.

Mark was, according to her LinkedIn page, the “Associate Deputy Representative--Advocacy, Aboriginal, Community Relations and Youth Engagement” until March 2015 in the representative’s office.

On Feb. 4, 2016, two days after the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant byelection Mark won, the RCY posted a job opening for an “Associate Deputy Representative, Advocacy and Youth Engagement.”

Mark was unavailable for an interview and a government caucus spokesperson referred questions to the office of the Representative for Children and Youth.

In an Oct. 3 email a spokesperson for the representative’s office had confirmed there was a restructuring and the position Mark had been in no longer exists. But he also said “The ADR Advocacy position has been eliminated at RCY... That program area is now headed by an executive director rather than an ADR.”

The spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon he would look into why the office advertised for an ADR Advocacy in February 2016 if the position had been eliminated in March 2015 and the work moved to an executive director. He did not provide an answer by publication time.

The government has said the restructuring that eliminated Mark’s position was based on a consultant’s report. Neither the government nor the representative’s office has provided a copy of the report.

Stephanie Cadieux, the advanced education critic for the BC Liberal opposition, said there are still unanswered questions about the severance.

“As we’ve said earlier, there are a lot of questions surrounding Ms. Mark’s departure and it seems to be getting murkier,” Cadieux said. “We continue to call on her for a full explanation.”  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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