Canada

Health minister freezes hiring, limits spending to 'help restore public confidence in the PHSA'

The announcement follows media reports about multiple whistleblowers alleging misspending by the authority, including a claim that $7 million was wasted on unusable face masks.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix responds to questions during a news conference regarding COVID-19, in Vancouver, on Saturday, March 14, 2020.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has appointed an independent adviser to review concerns surrounding “a problematic purchase” of faulty PPE and address reports of financial mismanagement at the Provincial Health Services Authority.

The announcement follows media reports about multiple whistleblowers alleging misspending by the authority, including a claim that $7 million was wasted on unusable face masks.

Dix acknowledged several other concerns in a statement released Friday, including “unnecessary renovations” to the 14th floor of the organization’s Vancouver headquarters at 1333 West Broadway, excessive catering expenses and inappropriate hiring practices.

“I have made it clear that it is critical that the public has confidence in the PHSA and the management of B.C.’s health system in general,” said Dix in the statement.

The minister said he had accepted several recommendations “to help restore public confidence in the PHSA and its leadership,” including limits on the organization’s authority to spend or make executive changes without approval from his ministry.

Hiring among senior executives has been frozen until March 31.

As well, Dix announced a review of business meeting expense policies for each regional health authority, including the PHSA.

Dix added that a third-party probe would examine concerns about the authority’s “problematic purchase” of personal protective equipment. The independent adviser will report back by Jan. 15.

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