View Royal councillor sues province

Ron Mattson claims firing from health ministry ruined his reputation

View Royal Coun. Ron Mattson is suing the province of British Columbia and Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid for wrongful dismissal and defamation in response to his firing from the ministry of health in September.

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.

A claim submitted by Mattson’s lawyer, Christopher Siver, states Mattson never had the authority to access ministry data in the first place. It states all he did was submit an application to have the researcher added as an approved user of a database related to a contract between the university and the government.

“No personal data was ever delivered by Mr. Mattson to any person,” states the claim.

The dismissal came after 28 years working for the province. Mattson has also served as a city councillor for 16 years.

“I was devastated when I was suspended,” Mattson said in a statement. “I loved my job, and was one of those fortunate individuals who looked forward to going to work each day. I was shocked and humiliated when I was escorted out of the building after my suspension.”

In a confidential letter from the ministry to Mattson, Graham Whitmarsh, deputy minister, told Mattson his “actions demonstrate a careless disregard of your fiduciary obligation to protect the highly confidential and sensitive data that is entrusted to the ministry’s care.”

As a result of his dismissal, Mattson, 59, said he has been forced to retire and his income cut in half. He claims his reputation has “been destroyed” and his “ability to fulfill duties as an elected official is uncertain.”

“I did nothing wrong and expected to be fully exonerated,” Mattson said. “I still do not know the real reason I was fired, and I remain shocked and humiliated.”

A press release from the ministry in September stated it had “asked the RCMP to investigate inappropriate conduct, contracting and data-management.” This statement is described in Mattson’s civil claim as suggesting Mattson engaged in criminal conduct, something he claims is “false and defamatory.”

Mattson said he asked the province and MacDiarmid on two occasions, as recently as Nov. 16, to apologize for the statements. He said he has received no apology.

A statement from the ministry states it will not make public comments related to “specific personnel information.”

“We have never publicly disclosed individuals’ names in the media, nor do we intend to. As is the case with any court action, we will defend it through the legal process.”

Mattson’s allegations haven’t been proven in court. MacDairmid and the Ministry of Health had not filed statements of defence by News Gazette deadline.

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 UVic and the University of British Columbia, worth about $4 million, were suspended as a result of the allegations.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Avoid giving dogs ice cubes, says Greater Victoria vet

Tips for keeping dogs cool and safe this summer

Hungry Hearts Gala goes virtual with new mac and cheese competition

Results will be announced on Facebook live stream event

GVPL staggers reopening of three more branches in Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria

More Greater Victoria Library branches to reopen in August

Gaps in the system: Youth cope with homelessness in Greater Victoria

Four-part series will look at youth homelessness in the region

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Most Read