3 people dismissed in SK eHealth investigation
July 4, 2018
REGINA – eHealth Saskatchewan, which manages the province’s personal medical records, has launched a ‘follow the money’ investigation into the organization’s contracts. Three employees have been dismissed “with cause” in relation to the investigation.
The agency, which manages the province’s personal medical records, confirmed the dismissals in recent committee meetings at the Saskatchewan legislature under questioning by the NDP’s Danielle Chartier.
Interim CEO Max Hendricks (pictured), who is also the Deputy Minister of Health, told a May 24 meeting of the Human Service Committee the investigation has been conducted in two phases. Phase one is complete.
“Phase one was really around concerns that the code of conduct and/or conflict of interest guidelines or policies in place at eHealth had been violated,” Hendricks said. “The initial phase was sufficient to take the action that we did with those employees.”
Hendricks confirmed that three people, two eHealth employees and one Saskatchewan Health Authority employee who was seconded to eHealth, were dismissed “with cause.”
“We did have enough cause to dismiss the employees,” Hendricks told a June 13 meeting of the Public Accounts Committee.
“They were with cause and so no severances were provided,” he explained a few weeks earlier in a Human Services Committee meeting.
Hendricks was quick to point out that eHealth’s decision could be challenged by the employees.
“They may take legal action against us and say there was an unfair dismissal.” eHealth says the second phase of the investigation, which is being conducted by a law firm, is ongoing.
“eHealth respects the privacy of current and past employees, so we will not be providing further details at this time,” a spokesperson wrote.
Through access to information, CBC has learned some details about how the investigation was launched.
In early April, then interim CEO of eHealth Kevin Wilson wrote to Billie-Jo Morrissette, the executive director of the financial services branch of the Ministry of Health.
“We need to do a review of existing contracts,” Wilson said. He asked Morrissette to recommend someone to conduct the review which “would be following contracts and payment.”
Wilson explained that the board “suggested external resource would be preferable” and he said the “focus would be following the money.”
At a May 23 Human Services committee meeting, Chartier said that it’s not just this ongoing investigation that is cause for concern at eHealth. She pointed out the organization is on its second interim CEO since October and has seen an almost complete turnover on the board in recent months.
“And this is an organization … that’s taking on some really important work, and has just taken over a good chunk of money from the health regions to be responsible for IT, so I do have some very big concerns,” Chartier said. “IT is at the heart of everything that happens in healthcare … And the organization, with all due respect, seems not entirely stable at this point in time.”
Minister Jim Reiter replied “I would say, you know, your concerns are valid,” and he pointed out the organization is actively looking for a permanent CEO.