Rights + Justice
BC Politics

‘Grateful It’s Finally Over’: Fired Health Workers Start Receiving Compensation

Cheques delivered or on the way to those wrongfully dismissed six years ago.

By Andrew MacLeod 19 Dec 2018 |

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at

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Roderick MacIsaac killed himself shortly after being wrongfully fired by the BC government in 2012. Several others were also fired, and are now beginning to receive compensation.

People affected by the 2012 wrongful firings from the British Columbia health ministry have begun receiving long-awaited compensation cheques.

“It was a shitty six years,” said Ramsay Hamdi, who had been a senior economist in the ministry’s utilization and risk management branch. “I’m just grateful it’s finally over.”

Hamdi received a six-figure cheque this week and is expecting more money soon and in the new year. At least some others affected have received messages from the provincial government saying they will receive payments by the end of the year.

“Claimants for whom recommendations have been received have been notified of the decision, and once they confirm their agreement, payments will be expedited,” said Lori Halls, the deputy minister for the B.C. Public Service Agency in an emailed statement.

“This represents a significant step in making reparations for the 2012 health firings — and their harmful consequences — that were found to be unjust, as outlined in the ombudsperson’s Misfire report.”

Ombudsperson Jay Chalke’s 2017 report “Misfire: The 2012 Ministry of Health Employment Terminations and Related Matters” found the firing of six employees and constructive dismissal of a seventh were “wrong and unjust” and should never have happened.

It also found the firings affected dozens of people, many of them contractors involved in pharmaceutical and health research.

The firings resulted in five wrongful dismissal and defamation lawsuits that were settled out of court, a union grievance process, some of the employees returning to work, and two major investigations.

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

The provincial government hired a retired judge, Thomas Cromwell, to oversee the implementation of the ombudsperson’s recommendations, including revisiting the grievance settlements that had been made with the four former employees who were BCGEU members and recommending compensation payments for them and others affected by the firings.

Halls said the government has been working diligently for a year to implement Chalke’s report and to fulfill the recommendations Cromwell made. “We welcome all opportunities to learn from these events. Government is committed to ongoing improvement as we work towards building a positive culture of trust and respect across the public service.”

Hamdi said it was nice to receive the money, which he planned to partially use to pay what he owes for an Italian sports car he recently bought.

“I guess it’s okay, but I’m still thinking of Roderick. He was just such a gentle soul,” he said. “I can’t figure out how this reached the tipping point for him, but I guess we’re all fragile.”

Hamdi also said he was unhappy that at least two of the people involved in the botched investigation that led to the firings still work for the government.

When ombudsperson Chalke released his report, he advised the government against firing people involved in the investigation. Some key figures, including Graham Whitmarsh who signed off on the firings as the deputy minister for health, no longer work for the provincial government.

In November, Premier John Horgan said the matter was very close to a resolution. “We want to make sure that everyone who’s involved is fairly compensated for the pain and suffering — not just wages [lost], but the pain and suffering — that they endured under the BC Liberals.”  [Tyee]

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