What does it take to get fired? - The Orca

What does it take to get fired?

Rob Shaw 2

Rob Shaw: If you’re the head of a BC health authority, it takes more than a bad $7 million deal, firing subordinates for ‘disloyalty,’ and trying to can the person auditing you.

What’s it take to get fired these days? Well, if you’re the head of a major health authority in British Columbia…apparently quite a lot. And even then you get a sweet payout.

One of the more damning reports in recent memory landed publicly this week regarding the conduct of Provincial Health Authority CEO Benoit Morin.

It was only eight pages long, but it packed a hell of a punch.

The report found almost $7 million wasted on useless face masks from Montreal in a deal personally brokered by Morin, as well as four senior officials turfed due to lack of “loyalty” to Morin’s leadership when they questioned the shoddy deal.

Add to that allegations of pricey renovations to PHSA executive offices, discrepancies with those bills, hiring and pay concerns, and a dismal work culture that had lost confidence in its leadership.

Morin “left the organization” the same day the report was released, according to a statement by the PHSA board.

The board, which oversees a critical health authority in a time of pandemic crisis, didn’t bother explaining the issue or offering anything other than one vague sentence about Morin’s departure.

God forbid they, who hired Morin in February, and get paid thousands of dollars a year in compensation to sit on the board, step up to be in any way accountable for their own role in the mess.

Health Minister Adrian Dix (BC Government Flickr)

Health Minister Adrian Dix, who triggered the probe following a report by the CBC’s Eric Rankin in November, was left to do the explaining.

“He’s being fired specifically,” Dix told CTV Vancouver.

Sounds about right. But then the other shoe dropped.

“Or dismissed, I should say, without cause,” added Dix. “Which means that he will receive severance consistent with his contract, which I believe is about nine months.”

Morin had a salary of $352,000. He leaves with an almost $243,750 golden parachute.

Not everyone was as lucky.

Morin commissioned outside legal opinions on whether he could fire three of his executives for cause, without severance, because they questioned the wisdom of his $7 million deal to buy face masks that didn’t work.

“We have been informed that the then desire to terminate these individuals was due to a perceived “lack of loyalty” to the CEO related to their roles and involvement in the Problematic PPE Purchase,” wrote consulting firm Ernst & Young, which conducted more than 40 interviews and reviewed 1.8 million documents to produce its report.

A fourth firing, of the organization’s chief internal auditor, was also at least partly related to a lack of loyalty to, or friction with, the CEO, concluded Ernst & Young.

“I think there are significant concerns,” said Dix.

True. But not just of Morin’s conduct. We should all have “significant concerns” over how he was allowed to skate away with a princely sum on his way out the door.

Rob Shaw has spent more than 13 years covering BC politics, now reporting for CHEK News and writing for The Orca. He is the co-author of the national best-selling book A Matter of Confidence, and a regular guest on CBC Radio.