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VIHA president did not abuse his position, board finds

May 09 2012

Vancouver Island Health Authority president Howard Waldner did not abuse his position when he contacted a cabinet minister and both a university dean and a provost about his son's application to medical school, according to a government ordered report.

In March, Health Minister Mike de Jong asked VIHA's board of directors to review Waldner's actions after it was suggested he used his authority to lobby officials to get his son into the University of British Columbia's medical school.

Waldner's son, who is attending medical school in Calgary, but had been attending Western University in London, Ont., applied to UBC's medical school but was twice rejected. He didn't meet B.C. residency requirements and his appeal of that criteria was denied.

Waldner contacted UBC dean Gavin Stuart and provost Dave Farrar, as well as Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong, minister of community and sport, to advocate on his son's behalf concerning the residency requirements.

After an "in-depth investigation into the allegations of abuse of position," the VIHA board concluded in a March 27 letter to B.C.

Deputy Health Minister Graham Whitmarsh that communications between Waldner and the UBC officials and Chong were "entirely of a private and personal nature."

"I also report that in all of the communications at issue, the board is satisfied that Mr. Waldner did not use his position with VIHA to seek any special advantage for his son, in particular his son's application to UBC medical school," VIHA chairman Don Hubbard wrote. "The subject communications dealt with the UBC faculty of medicine's B.C. residence criteria in a provincial context."

VIHA would not comment on the issue on Tuesday, saying it was a private and personal matter between Waldner and UBC.

De Jong said he "bows" to the board's findings, but added: "People who occupy high office and very responsible positions have to be very careful how they conduct themselves and interact with agencies over whom others may see them as having influence."



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