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BC looking for something more affordable than public inquiry into health firings scandal

(Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Those affected by health firings scandal have asked for a public inquiry, but the province says it's too expensive

One of eight workers took his own life before the BC government apologized for the scandal

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province’s health minister is looking for a cheaper alternative than an inquiry into the health firings scandal.

Terry Lake says he’s looking for a way to get answers in a cheaper, faster way than a public inquiry, despite a letter from those directly affected making that request. A public inquiry, he adds, can cost millions of dollars and could drag on for years.

“I do think that there are ways of getting this information out there in a more timely way than we have seen with protracted public inquiries that tend to involve a lot of lawyers and a lot of legal fees,” says Lake.

Reaching out to the ombudsperson is one option being considered.

“The suggestion has been put forward about the ombudsperson’s office,” Lake says. “Work is going on at the moment to look at all of those different avenues to try to satisfy the public’s desire for information.”

He says in some cases, public inquiries don’t achieve the objectives people are hoping for.

Just yesterday, seven of the fired workers and the sister of a co-op student who killed himself over his dismissal wrote a letter to the minister requesting an inquiry.

Roderick MacIsaac was just three days away from finishing his co-op term that would have allowed him to complete his doctorate when he was fired and the government announced he along with the seven others were being investigated by the RCMP.

He was never actually under investigation by the Mounties. The government has since apologized and settled out of court with some of the workers affected.

However, that apology didn’t come soon enough for MacIsaac, who killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning by sealing off a room and then turning on a gas-powered generator.  His body wasn’t found for a month.