HEU calls for independent investigation of $700,000 payout to “retired” health boss

News release

Similarities cited with Mulchey severance scandal, as FOIs filed to press for full disclosure of all executive payouts

The Hospital Employees’ Union (CUPE) demanded today that health minister Colin Hansen order an immediate and independent investigation into the $700,000 golden handshake for ex-health boss Pat Zanon, who, according to published media reports supposedly “retired” in December. And that, says the union, should make her ineligible for any form of severance payout, if the Campbell government followed its own regulations.

“It’s not good enough for health minister Hansen to ring his hands, feign upset and then claim there’s nothing he can do because this outrageous deal is “not out of line” with settlements for top bosses in the private sector,” says HEU spokesperson Chris Allnutt.

“He could start looking after the interests of patients and our health care system by ordering an independent investigation to determine whether the lavish settlement is in compliance with the laws and regulations he has clearly shown that he’s not willing to enforce,” says Allnutt. “And those regulations are very clear—severance payouts cannot and should not be made to administrators who retire.”

The union says the independent investigation should be modelled on a similar process the former NDP government followed to review the previous record health care severance payout—the 1996 $550,000 bonanza reaped by ex-St. Paul’s president Ron Mulchey.

“On the surface there appear to be some similarities between the two deals,” says Allnutt. “Both supposedly retired, and both then garnered lavish settlements to cushion their golden years.”

Allnutt says that the role of Premier Campbell’s hand-picked Fraser Health Authority czar Barry Forbes should also come under scrutiny because Forbes is also responsible for following the regulations.

“This settlement—and the many more the minister is predicting—will rob our health system of millions of dollars that would be better spent providing health services for British Columbians,” says Allnutt. “Hansen says we have no choice but to `swallow it.’ We beg to differ.”

Meanwhile, HEU has filed freedom of information requests with all six B.C. health authorities to determine how many `Zanon-sized’ payouts have been made or are in the works.

-30- For more information, contact: Stephen Howard, director of communications, 604-456-7037 (direct) 604-240-8524 (cell) Mike Old, communications officer, 604-456-7039 (direct) 604-828-6771 (cell)