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

Sooke School District promises learning opportunites for students by mid-April

‘No intent to replicate regular school day virtually’ SD62 says

VIDEO: Musician stays physically distant in courtyard show for Langford retirees

Bob Nelson found a way to continue to play for retirement community residents

COVID-19: Health care workers seek alternative housing options to prevent families from getting sick

Volunteers, residents and businesses step up to provide frontline workers with alternative housing

BC Parks Foundation organizes virtual picnic for the province

Join a B.C.-wide picnic online Saturday, March 28

Victoria Police see new trends in calls due to COVID-19

Police link jump in domestic, mental health calls to pandemic

Trudeau announces 75% wage subsidy for small businesses amid COVID-19

This is up from the previously announced 10 per cent wage subsidy

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

World update, 9:30 p.m. March 27: Positive news in Korea as U.S. hits 100,000 cases

The United States now has the most coronavirus cases of any country in the world

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

COVID-19: Qualicum Beach youngster gets car parade for his sixth birthday

Friends get creative after party cancelled due to ongoing pandemic

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help locating 17-year-old girl believed to be with 36-year-old man

Mary Cyprich, missing since Thurday, might be in company of Force Forsythe

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

‘Now is not the time to bag that peak’: BCSAR manager discourages risky outdoor adventures

Call volumes are not going down, even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists

Most Read