Skip to main content

B.C. health minister silent as muzzling criticism grows


More B.C. health-care workers have spoken up publicly and on background confirming CTV News reporting on allegations of repercussions for speaking up about patient care and workplace conditions, but the health minister has not answered questions on the matter. 

The Doctors of BC and BC Nurses’ Union joined others in denouncing efforts to silence questions, criticism and complaints, whether on the record publicly, or through internal channels within the public health-care system.

CTV News made multiple efforts to speak with the health minister directly so he could address specific points, including toxic workplace allegations, unofficial labelling of some workers as “troublemakers” and claims some policies are “weaponized” against staff in order to punish them for not toeing the party line.

Adrian Dix’s office claimed that, despite an entire day’s notice and an extension of the deadline to respond, he was not available, sending an extensive written statement reiterating past talking points that there are “appropriate” channels to raise concerns and that whistleblower protection is in place for workers.


Sources tell CTV News that raising concerns about staffing levels, quality of care, and other issues have resulted in notices to workers that they're in violation of “respectful workplace policies,” and that health authority lawyers have even gotten involved.

The Canadian Medical Protection Association, which provides medico-legal advice for physicians, declined comment on allegations the policy was being “weaponized” because they felt “it would be inappropriate to comment publicly on this issue, which directly involves our member-physicians.”

Insiders also expressed frustration that health authority chiefs and other experts in the public health system who are ready and willing to address a variety of issues have been nearly absent from the public eye, despite requests from journalists for interviews, as messaging and control of the situation has been centralized with the minister and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

It’s noteworthy that a government-ordered “COVID-19 Lessons Learned Review” cited government stakeholders as complaining that “there was strict central control of the messaging, including actively discouraging any questioning or challenging of the PHO.”


There are whistleblower hotlines in B.C. health authorities, but staff describe a distrust of the system and fear there will be repercussions despite stated protections. As of June 1, however, the provincial ombudsperson will be able to review complaints sent by health-care workers to his office as legislation rolls out to more government sectors.

“Whistleblower protection laws are generally reserved for the most serious matters,” said B.C. Ombudsperson Jay Chalke, pointing out systemic gross mismanagement would likely qualify for investigation.

“If people, for example, are demoted or some other adverse employment consequence arises, they can report that to us and we can investigate it.”

The stress that goes along with such making such a report is just one more factor that observers fear could push workers out of health care altogether after three years of the pandemic and increasing patient volumes amid a worsening staffing shortage.

“We cannot have people feeling bullied, pressured, or muzzled to speak out, even when they’re making suggestions on how we can improve patient safety,” said Official Opposition leader Kevin Falcon. “(The NDP government) is just focussed on their communication and trying not to look like they're making any mistakes, but the public knows we've got a crisis in health care.” Top Stories

Stay Connected