Saskatchewan·CBC Investigates

eHealth confirms 3 fired employees accepted all-expenses-paid trips to U.S.-based sporting events

Earlier this year, eHealth Saskatchewan fired three employees who had accepted all-expenses-paid trips to three separate sporting events in the United States, in violation of the government agency’s conflict of interest policy.

Review found the employees broke conflict of interest policy, but committed no crimes

eHealth Saskatchewan fired three employees for violating the organization's conflict of interest rules by accepting all-expenses-paid trips to sporting events. (saskatchewan.ca)

eHealth Saskatchewan has confirmed that three employees fired earlier this year were found to have accepted all-expenses-paid trips to three separate sporting events in the United States, in violation of the government agency's conflict of interest policy.

The Crown corporation, which manages Saskatchewan's health care records, said in a statement to CBC News Wednesday that the trips were, "paid for by private companies that provide goods and services to eHealth." An official confirmed the company paid for flights, hotels and tickets.

Earlier this year, eHealth brought in an external law firm to investigate. eHealth said that the investigation determined the employees did violate conflict of interest rules, but didn't break the law.

"No public funds were misappropriated," eHealth said.

Earlier this year, eHealth CEO Max Hendricks confirmed the three employees were dismissed "with cause."

"They were with cause and so no severances were provided," he said at a meeting of the province's Human Services Committee.

Provincial auditor also probing incidents

While eHealth's investigation has wrapped up, the provincial auditor is still digging into the matter.

Earlier this year, eHealth gave the auditor's office a heads-up about the incidents.

In an April 19 email, obtained through access to information, an official with the auditor's office wrote, "I would like some particulars on incident(s) that caused the terminations and how it was discovered."

In particular, the official wanted to ensure eHealth's internal systems are up to standard.

"We will want to assess if there was a breach in any of your internal controls," the official wrote. "Also if eHealth did any sort of weakness investigation to determine the extent of the breach and any losses, we would like to see that assessment."

In the statement to CBC, eHealth says it has reviewed all contracts with the companies that paid for the trips and has decided "no follow-up action was required."

In addition, it says officials have been reviewing internal processes and educating staff about conflict of interest.

eHealth redacted most of the 233 pages of emails it provided to CBC about this incident.

CBC has filed access requests seeking more details about these incidents.

On Wednesday, eHealth provided 233 pages of documents, but the vast majority of them were blacked out. CBC will be challenging eHealth's decision.

About the Author

Geoff Leo

Senior Investigative Journalist

Geoff Leo has been a reporter for CBC News in Saskatchewan since 2001. His work as an investigative journalist and documentary producer has earned numerous national and regional awards.