Controversial $700,000 health CEO severance deal improper—new evidence

News release

Overturn Zanon deal, recoup the cash, HEU urges Campbell

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) says that through a Freedom of Information query, it’s obtained evidence that shows the controversial $700,000 golden handshake for ex-health care boss Pat Zanon was improperly agreed to, and should be declared invalid.

In a letter sent this morning to Premier Campbell, the union passed on the startling revelations along with demands that Victoria move to overturn the deal and seek full restitution of money paid out to Zanon, the ex-CEO of the former South Fraser Health Region.

According to a copy of the severance agreement obtained by HEU, the deal was signed off on Dec. 11, 2001—the day before the Campbell government eliminated the former health regions and councils and created six mega authorities—by health boss Lynda Cranston. At the time, Cranston was CEO of another health region—the Simon Fraser Health Region. The deal was written up on Simon Fraser Health Region letterhead, and faxed to Zanon from the Simon Fraser administrative offices.

“The first step in analyzing any contract or agreement,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt, “is whether the signatories had the authority to enter into the agreement in the first place.

“And in this case, Lynda Cranston clearly was not vested with the legal authority to enter into a deal with the CEO of another, separate health region on the date the golden handshake was inked,” he says. It wasn’t until Dec. 12 that Cranston was appointed as the top Fraser Health boss.

“This one has smelled from the outset,” says Allnutt. “But fortunately, we’ve gathered the evidence that will allow government to act to put things right.”

Meanwhile, in the letter to Campbell, Allnutt renewed his union’s call for an independent inquiry into lucrative golden handshakes for health care bosses. He also reminded the Premier that Victoria “has a responsibility to act to uphold and enforce the rules and regulations governing the payment of severance to public sector administrators.”

Click here to download copies of the Zanon severance agreement and HEU’s letter to Premier.

-30- Contact: Stephen Howard, director of communications, 604-456-7037 (direct) or 604-240-8524