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

Fraser Valley Bandits release top forward Cameron Forte

A team leader through four games of the CEBL Summer Series, Forte has been cut loose

The Happy Hiker, Art Lengkeek, recognized with bench and plaque on Mount Cheam trail

The 88 year old is a familiar sight on trails throughout the Fraser Valley and beyond

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Classes, theatre re-open at Chilliwack Cultural Centre under strict protocols

Smaller classes sizes, mandatory masks are some of the new rules at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Wildfire breaks out near Harrison Hot Springs

1.5 hectare fire is reportedly human caused

Police lay out details of mental health response in Abbotsford over long weekend

APD officers assist mental health team for three hours yesterday, man sent to hospital with injury

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Fraser Valley Bandits clinch playoff spot with win

Bandits down Niagara River Lions 70-57 on Sunday, improve to 3-2

Most Read