Agency topped up exec’s salary with donations

VANCOUVER; TORONTO – The B.C. Cancer Foundation agreed to pledge $375,000 in charitable donation funds over five years to help defray the salary costs of the leader of the B.C. Cancer Agency. Dr. Max Coppes, has since resigned.

Coppes earned more than $1 million in the two years he was here – including $75,000 a year from the foundation, the Vancouver Sun has learned.

The charitable foundation is the fundraising partner of the cancer agency; it typically raises money for such things as new technology and equipment for the agency, and for research done by scientists at the B.C. Cancer Research Centre. But foundation CEO Doug Nelson said Monday he committed to subsidizing the salary of the agency head in 2012 after the then-head of the Provincial Health Services Authority – Lynda Cranston – asked him if he’d be willing to offer foundation revenue to top up the salary of a new leader so a “dream candidate” could be recruited.

Coppes, a pediatric oncologist with an international reputation, joined the agency in the late summer of 2012 but he resigned last week amid controversy over patient waiting times, slumping morale, governance and budgetary pressures affecting clinicians and researchers. He has refused to comment and has moved to the U.S. to head a hospital in Nevada.

Nelson said after Cranston’s unusual request, he agreed to pledge $75,000 a year for five years. The money was on top of Coppes’ annual compensation package of $561,000 a year (including benefits) from PHSA, the health authority that governs the cancer agency, B.C. Children’s and Women’s hospitals and other provincial agencies and services, all of which are funded by government.

It is not clear how much of a role the salary issue played in Coppes’ resignation but cancer agency insiders have said it was the last straw among many frustrations for him. PHSA president Cranston resigned in the summer of 2013, after she acknowledged she approved and exceeded provincial government wage guidelines in dozens of cases.

PHSA has launched a recruitment process for a leader to succeed Coppes. Theresa Kennedy, spokeswoman for PHSA, said the foundation will not be asked again to help cover the compensation costs. Asked if a mistake had been made, she said: “We will not be going to the foundation to top up salaries again.”

Ghomeshi drops suit against CBC

The CBC says its lawyers have reached an agreement with former radio host Jian Ghomeshi and he has withdrawn his $55-million lawsuit against the public broadcaster.

CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson says “the civil suit has been dismissed with costs in favour of CBC.” He says Ghomeshi is expected to pay $18,000 in legal costs to the CBC.

In his lawsuit, the former “Q’ radio host alleged defamation and breach of confidence.

The agreement reached between lawyers for the CBC and Ghomeshi still needs to be formalized through a court – a step Thompson says is expected in the near future.

Ghomeshi was fired by the public broadcaster last month amid allegations of “abusive behaviour’ from numerous women.

Police are investigating complaints by at least three of them. Ghomeshi has denied the allegations, arguing in a Facebook posting that he engaged in “rough sex’ with women, but insisting it was always consensual.

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