Dix to Meet with Fired Health Employees

‘We’ve got to refill those gaps.’

By Andrew MacLeod 11 Dec 2017 |

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

Health Minister Adrian Dix has invited people wrongfully fired in 2012 from the ministry he now heads to meet with him and Don Wright, the deputy minister to Premier John Horgan.

“I wanted to propose an informal but I hope useful get-together in the next couple of weeks,” Dix wrote in a late November email. The meeting has since been set for Dec. 12.

Dix suggested the meeting to Wright to help with the implementation of Ombudsperson Jay Chalke’s report on the firings and the attempt to “rebuild health research and ensure that the greatest possible measure of justice is done.”

Dix wrote, “The idea is that he meet you, hears from you, talks to you and gets to know at least a little bit. I would of course be present as well.”

Six people were fired from the ministry in 2012 and a seventh was constructively dismissed. The ministry also froze several contracts and stopped releasing data to researchers, putting more people out of work.

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

One of the fired employees, Roderick MacIsaac, committed suicide.

In April Ombudsperson Chalke’s office released a 487-page report on the firings titled “Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters.” The report confirmed that the firings were “wrong and unjust” and recommended compensation be paid to the victims, which the government has since acted on.

People invited to the meeting with Dix and Wright include all of the surviving people who were fired as well as MacIsaac’s sister Linda Kayfish. One of the people who was fired, Ron Mattson, was appointed by Dix in September to the board of the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Dix was unavailable for an interview Friday.

While in opposition, he called for a public inquiry into the firings and regularly raised the issue. During a Nov. 30 appearance on Voice of B.C., Dix said there’s still work to do rebuilding the health ministry’s ability to do research. “We’ve got to refill those gaps,” he said. “Essentially they decimated the research capacity in the ministry of health just as we have to make very serious decisions about the future of health care.”

The government badly botched the firing then failed to treat people fairly after it became clear the terminations had been a massive mistake, he said.

“At every turn when they could have done the right thing, the just thing, either the politicians or the senior public servants, chose the government’s interests ... over the opportunity to do justice,” Dix said. “In the end, of course, those were the wrong decisions even for them.”

Michael de Jong, who was the health minister up until the day before the firings, is running to lead the BC Liberal party.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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