Nova Scotia

IWK Health centre starting whistleblowing tip line

The IWK Health Centre is launching a whistleblowing phone line for employees to secretly inform the administration of wrongdoing within the organization.

New 'wrongdoing policy' will allow people throughout hospital to report concerns anonymously

Staff at the IWK can now secretly report wrongdoing via a new phone line. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

The IWK Health Centre is launching a whistleblowing phone line for employees to secretly inform the administration of wrongdoing within the organization.

The hospital's board voted to bring in a new "wrongdoing policy" at its meeting in Halifax on Monday night.

A copy of the policy is not yet publicly available.

​"It allows individuals throughout the organization to raise their voice if they're concerned about something that's happening, and there's a process framework around that for how it's dealt with," said Karen Hutt, the chair of the IWK's board of directors.

A headshot of a woman.
The IWK's former CEO, Tracy Kitch, charged $47,000 in personal expenses to the hospital, including air travel, hotel costs, data overages and car rentals. (Career Women Interaction)

Employees wanting to report wrongdoing can do so anonymously through the confidential number, Hutt said. 

If they're comfortable identifying themselves, there's a mechanism they can go through that outlines how their concern will be addressed.

Former CEO billed thousands in personal expenses

The IWK has been under fire since June 2017 when a CBC News investigation revealed then-CEO Tracey Kitch expensed $47,000 in personal charges to the hospital for things like air travel, hotels, data overages and car rentals.

The IWK board met Monday night and decided to adopt a new whistleblowing policy. (Marina von Stackleberg/CBC)

The hospital's then-chief financial officer Stephen D'Arcy was also involved in the scandal.

CBC News revealed D'Arcy knowingly helped Kitch prepare an incomplete expense statement to meet provincial reporting standards and removed critical emails related to expense preparation for a freedom-of-information disclosure.

Both resigned after their involvement was made public.

Nova Scotia's auditor general is currently looking into the IWK's books and practices.

Former IWK chief financial officer Stephen D'Arcy resigned after it was discovered he helped Kitch prepare incomplete expense statements. (CBC)

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Police said Monday that officers are still actively investigating possible financial mismanagement at the IWK Health Centre.

No charges have been laid to date.

Tip line 'something that good organizations do'

When asked what prompted the decision to create the new whisteblowing policy, Hutt said it was "best practice."

"This is not unique to any certain circumstance or sector. This is something that good organizations do and we think it's a step in the right direction."

Hutt said under the IWK's code of conduct, there was always a mechanism for employees to identify concerns confidentially.

"This really just formalizes it," she said, "and really steps through what the various chain of command is, and what sort of steps the individual will go through, and what sort of protection we make sure is in place." 

"It's an opportunity, likely, to better communicate it, so employees understand that it's there," she said.


Marina von Stackelberg is a senior reporter at CBC's Parliamentary Bureau in Ottawa. She previously worked as a reporter and host in Winnipeg, with earlier stints in Halifax and Sudbury. Her stories regularly appear across the country on CBC Radio and CBC News Network. Connect with her by email at or on social media @CBCMarina.