B.C.’s Ministry of Health and Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid filed their response to View Royal Coun. Ron Mattson’s claim of wrongful dismissal and defamation following his firing from the ministry in September.
Mattson announced in early December he is suing the province, claiming the ministry had no reason to fire him and that comments made by the ministry to the public were defamatory and false.
Mattson, was first suspended without pay on July 17, then fired by the ministry for allegedly passing confidential data to a University of Victoria researcher, an allegation Mattson denies.
In documents filed on Christmas Eve the ministry claims it had just cause to fire Mattson. The documents allege Mattson discussed with the researcher ways to get around the province’s policies in order to get data.
“On or about June 28, 2012 the Plaintiff agreed to provide confidential data belonging to the Ministry of Health, including personal identifiable linked data, to the Contrator,” reads the document. “The Plaintiff knew or ought to have known (he) did not have authorization at that time to receive such data.”
In response to Mattson’s claims of defamation on the part of the ministry, the reply states the ministry never referred to Mattson by name and that what it did say to the public about the firings was true and therefore not slander.
“The alleged comments were made on a privileged occasion in which the electorate of British Columbia had a bona fide interest in learning information about the investigation,” reads the document. “Further and in the alternative, the alleged defamatory comments were true in substance and in fact.”
The ministry’s internal investigation into the alleged privacy breach is ongoing.
Six employees were fired and another suspended in relation to the alleged breach of privacy. The ministry investigation began in May after an anonymous tip to B.C. Auditor General John Doyle’s office. Two research contracts with the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia, worth about $4 million, were suspended as a result of the allegations.
Mattson has stated unequivocally that claims by the ministry of any wrongdoing are false.