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HomeNewsUPDATED: Another B.C. health ministry tragedy

UPDATED: Another B.C. health ministry tragedy

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Bob Mackin 

The body of a British Columbia Ministry of Health IT worker was found April 30 off McNeill Bay. 

Ronald Merner, 56, was acting director of informatics and data provisioning since December, according to his LinkedIn page. Cause of death has not been released, but Oak Bay Police say no foul play is suspected.

Merner (LinkedIn)

Merner was last seen alive at 8 p.m. on April 20 at his home. It is believed that he had gone to McNeill Bay and the Oak Bay Police news release called it “uncharacteristic behaviour for Mr. Merner and is cause for concern.” 

Merner’s body was found off the beach in McNeill Bay around 5:45 p.m. April 30. On May 1, police confirmed that it was Merner.

The 1984 University of Victoria computer science graduate had worked in the Ministry of Health since 2001. He was team lead, data acquisition and development services, from 2011 to 2016.

In 2012, eight researchers in the pharmaceuticals services division were wrongly fired over data breach allegations and the BC Liberal government claimed there was an RCMP investigation when there really wasn’t. It is not immediately known how the scandal affected Merner or if he was among the 130 people interviewed for Ombudsperson Jay Chalke’s April 6-released report, which detailed rampant bullying. Chalke only named senior officials.

One of the eight wrongly fired researchers, Roderick MacIsaac, died of suicide after he was fired in 2012. Chalke found ministry staff never contacted MacIsaac after re-evaluating their earlier, incorrect belief that he had taken data. On April 11, the day the election was called, MacIsaac’s sister, Linda Kayfish, publicly demanded Christy Clark look her in the eyes, apologize personally and take responsibility. Clark apologized at a Government House news conference, but has not apologized in-person to Kayfish or taken responsibility for the health firings or MacIsaac’s suicide.

UPDATE (June 22, 2018): The May 16, 2018 report by Coroner Courtney Cote said Merner died April 21, 2017 of drowning by means of “restrained hands and feet with zip ties and entered ocean.” Cote classified the death as suicide. 

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