One of three fired Health Canada scientists to have his job reinstated

Union labels it a ‘sad day’ for public servants looking out for public safety
||Last Updated: 08/09/2011

After a seven-year legal battle, only one of three Heath Canada scientists fired by the government department will be getting his job back, the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) has ruled.

Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon and Gérard Lambert were critics of departmental practices when they were fired for insubordination in 2004. The three scientists filed five grievances related to disciplinary action and three related to abusive termination of employment to the board.

All but one of the grievances were dismissed. The PSLRB ruled that Health Canada was too quick to fire Lambert. His position had been terminated while he was on sick leave.

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) is labeling the ruling a “sad day” for public servants who are raising awareness on public safety.

“Devoted to protecting the health of Canada’s citizens, the three scientists acted morally to defend the public from products that they had reason to believe could have harmed the food chain and ultimately the lives of Canadians,” said president of PIPSC Gary Corbett. “Cases of dismissal like these do nothing good to help public service whistleblowers to come forward and denounce wrongdoing within their departments.”

The scientists opposed the use of a bovine growth hormone that was used to enhance milk production in cows in the late 1990s. Their public criticism let to a Senate inquiry and an eventual decision not to approve the drug. Later in their careers, they also cautioned that a drug used to promote growth in pigs could produce carcinogenic toxins and that a drug being used to promote growth in chickens and cows could produce antibiotic resistance in humans.

PIPSC say that they will likely appeal the decision. The PSLRB has granted an adjudicator 90 days to determine the appropriate compensation of back wages and benefits for Lambert.

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