In the wake of a controversial Ombudsperson’s report into the firing of Health Ministry employees being released Thursday morning, the author is speaking out about his findings.
B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke wrote the report, titled “Misfire”, which finds that the decision to fire eight researchers back in 2012 was made after a rushed and improper investigation.
In an interview on The Simi Sara Show, Chalke spoke about the rationale behind his findings.
He says the investigation was flawed from the start and moved much too quickly.
“What should have occurred, which is a very deliberate and considered process that leads up to the decision to fire someone, that process all but collapsed.”
He says allegations by an unknown whistleblower into a possible internal breach of data were assigned to a junior investigator, who quickly became overwhelmed.
That led to the original whistleblower exerting an improper level of control over the investigation.
He says it took the government almost a year to realize something was wrong.
“It wasn’t really something that happened all at once, but in my view, by the end of 2013 the government was in a position to realize that a number of injustices had happened.”
When announcing the firings, the government also mentioned that an RCMP investigation into the suspected breach was underway – a notion that was ultimately proven to be untrue.
Chalke found that the investigation and subsequent announcement caused undue suffering for the employees under scrutiny.
He recommended that the employees affected receive goodwill payments of up to $125,000.
“What I wanted to do was have the government look at a payment that was not in the nature of a legal obligation… [but] a payment that is more out of moral obligation.”
He says it’s what they deserve for being subject to the investigation.
“It’s really a very sad story. There were flawed investigations and rushed decision-making, and that resulted in government officials taking action that had really quite far-reaching and harmful effects.”
In spite of the results, Chalke says the investigation was started with the best of intentions.
“In hindsight, it’s easy to see what happened. But at the time, of course, the people involved were concerned that if these allegations were true, they had problems with respect to the security of data.”
He says the final decision was just the culmination of too many mistakes.
“It was really a question of too far too fast.”