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

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Overall house sales drop in the northwest

COVID-19 pandemic slowed market activity

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Most Read