'An utter failing of process': Province reacts to report into health worker firings

'An utter failing of process': Province reacts to report into health worker firings

The province is offering an apology after B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke's report that found flawed decisions and investigations by the government led to harmful consequences for eight Ministry of Health workers who were wrongly dismissed in 2012.

The report, released today after an 18-month investigation into the firings, called on the government to apologize to the workers who "did not deserve the significant personal, financial and professional harm they suffered."

Kim Henderson, deputy minister to the premier and head of the B.C. Public Service, thanked Chalke for the report:

"On behalf of the Public Service of British Columbia, I want to offer an unqualified and comprehensive apology to all who were adversely affected by public service conduct," she said in a press conference.

Failings in multiple departments

Henderson said the report highlights "an utter failing of process" in multiple departments, and that the province is accepting and moving forward on all of the recommendations.

She said Premier Christy Clark has been briefed and is supportive of all of them.

When asked whether further firings could be expected as a result of the report, Henderson responded that Chalke has not recommended any further disciplinary actions, and that she is taking that recommendation "into consideration."

MacIsaac family says apology too late 

The report recommends the province honour the memory of 46-year-old co-op student Roderick MacIsaac by funding a $500,000 University of Victoria scholarship in his name.

Henderson confirmed the endowment fund will be created, and said the government has "already started looking at a reparation process by those affected by the Ministry of Health findings and its aftermath."

MacIsaac committed suicide after he was fired from a drug research lab.

In September of 2014, his sister, Linda Kayfish,  asked for an apology from the B.C. government.

In a statement Thursday, Kayfish said the report comes too late.

"We always knew that my brother Roderick and the other researchers did nothing wrong, that they were the victims of a flawed and malicious campaign. But the formal vindication provided by the Ombuds report has come too late for Roderick and our family," it read in part.

"I want those truly responsible for what happened to my brother to be held accountable. And that's something the Ombudsperson is incapable of doing."

NDP reacts

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan also reacted to the report's findings, speaking from a campaign bus in the Okanagan.

He called the health ministry firings and subsequent investigations "one of the most disappointing periods in human resource history, certainly here in British Columbia."

Horgan said he was concerned that the firings of the eight health care workers could deter future researchers from wanting to work in the province's health research sector.

"Why would a researcher coming out of grad school want to go work for the government of British Columbia?" he said.

Horgan also commended Chalke for completing the investigation in a timely way.

"This is a good day for health research in British Columbia, and it's a good day in transparency in the process that Mr. Chalke undertook," he said.