VICTORIA — A retired Supreme Court of Canada judge will oversee financial payments to those harmed when the British Columbia government fired eight workers, including one man who later took his life.
The government said Friday it appointed Thomas Cromwell to administer a reparation process that includes goodwill payments recommended in a report released Thursday by British Columbia’s ombudsman Jay Chalke.
Kim Henderson, who heads the provincial public service and is Premier Christy Clark’s deputy minister, said Cromwell will also consider further payments beyond those outlined in Chalke’s report.
“Mr. Cromwell is being asked for advice on whether additional reparations to others harmed by these actions could be appropriate,” Henderson said in a statement. “Further, he is being asked to facilitate a settlement process to allow prompt justice for any person who may have legal claims against the government arising from the matters detailed the report.”
Henderson offered an unqualified and comprehensive apology to those affected by government service conduct at a news conference Thursday. She said the government accepted all the recommendations in Chalke’s report.
“We will move forward on all of the recommendations,” she said. “With respect to the ombudsperson’s recommendations related to ex gratia (good will) payments we fully accept these and I can advise we have already started looking at a reparation process for those affected by the Ministry of Health firings and its aftermath.”
Chalke’s report said the Health Ministry workers were the victims of a flawed and rushed investigation into allegations of inappropriate and potentially criminal conduct involving government drug research.
The ombudsman said the workers did not deserve the personal, financial and professional harm they suffered, and he recommended payments of $15,000 to $125,000 to individuals.
Chalke also recommended the establishment of a $500,000 scholarship endowment fund at the University of Victoria in memory of co-op student Roderick MacIsaac, who died by suicide a few months after he was fired in 2012.
The report outlined payment recommendations to the workers and others that amount to $1.6 million.
Chalke’s report detailed five legal settlements with the fired workers. It said MacIsaac’s estate received three days’ lost pay of about $450.
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