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President of health agency steps down over salary increases

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Inappropriate wage increases for the people who run the province’s specialized health care services has cost the agency’s president her job.

The pay hikes came as a surprise to the Provincial Health Services Authority’s board of directors.

Board chair Wynne Powell says the salary increases were implemented without their knowledge or their consent.

Pay hikes were issued to 118 managers in the PHSA only months after the province announced wages for all public sector managers were to be frozen.

Powell says as a result, the agency’s president and CEO Lynda Cranston has stepped down.

“There were a series of decisions that were made that she signed off. She admits that she made an error in judgment in the way it was handled,” Powell explains.

He says because Cranston is technically retiring, she will receive no severance.

He points out the board is looking at whether the hikes can be reversed.

“We, the board, have asked our lawyers what tools can we use to somehow correct this to be within government guidelines.”

Health Minister Terry Lake says he was disappointed by the news.

“It clearly contravenes government directions that management would not receive salary increases given the fiscal climate that we’re in. We support the board. It’s important managers hold the line and serve as an example,” says Lake.

But NDP health critic Judy Darcy says the province’s reaction doesn’t seem genuine.

“I do think the government’s response is, frankly, unbelievable. They made the decision about raising political staffer wages after the election.”

She’s referring to pay hikes given to political appointees, a decision the premier has since reversed.

The PHSA operates Children’s Hospital, BC Transplant, the BC Cancer Agency and BC’s Ambulance Service.