Minister refuses to directly answer questions about health ministry scandal

Vancouver, BC, Canada / (CKNW AM) AM980

While the B.C. government settles a claim with a former Health Ministry employee, saying its decision to fire him was a regrettable mistake, the Minister responsible refuses to directly answer questions about what happened.

Reporter: “So you’re not on the job right now”?

Lake: “This is sort of a working vacation for me.”

While communications staff told CKNW Health Minister Terry Lake was unavailable because he was on vacation, we found him at a craft beer tour with fellow politicians in North Vancouver.

The Ministry has now settled five wrongful dismissal claims after a sweeping privacy-breach investigation and mass firing in 2012.

Lake would only say he’s committed to ensuring health data remains confidential.

“We know there was some concern around data and privacy, we followed all the recommendations of the privacy commissioner and the Deloitte report, and we are working through those.”

Lake refused to say how much the out of court settlements cost taxpayers.

Ron Mattson filed a lawsuit in December 2012 against then health minister Margaret MacDiarmid and the province, alleging wrongful dismissal, wrongful withholding of pay and defamation.

Mattson worked as the project manager for the Alzeimer’s Drug Therapy Initiative since 1984 and was among seven people who were fired as part of an alleged privacy breach of health data.

Mattson says he accepts the government’s statement of regret, its acknowledgment that his dismissal was a mistake and is relieved that his name has been cleared.

He says he will turn 61 on Thursday and is looking forward to spending time with his family and enjoying his retirement.

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