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Interior Health’s ex-top doctor got $300K salary for year amid child sex crimes

Health Minister Adrian Dix said government had to follow in paying de Villiers

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the provincial government had to follow the law after BC United questioned the payment of more than $300,000 for a former top doctor, while he was waiting for his eventual conviction in a sexual assault trial.

An Alberta court sentenced Albert de Villiers to five-and-a-half years in prison in June 2023 after he was convicted of sexually touching a child and sexual interference on Feb. 7, dating back to incidents that took place between 2018 and 2020 in Alberta.

De Villiers was Interior Health’s chief medical officer for less than a year before his arrest on June 8, 2021, which led to charges of sexual assault and sexual interference against a child. The charges were connected de Villiers’ time in Alberta, where he had served as chief medical health officer for Alberta Health Services’ North Zone.

IH placed de Villierson administrative duties following his arrest, but he continued to draw a salary and benefits through his trial until his termination on Feb. 7. They totaled $356,738 for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ended March 31, 2022.

Public sector accounts released earlier this fall pegged de Villiers’ total compensation in the 2022-23 fiscal year at $346,536.

BC United MLA Shirley Bond, who is shadow minister for health, seniors services and long-term care, gain raised de Villiers’ compensation during Tuesday’s Question Period.

RELATED: Former Kelowna-based top doctor for Interior Health sentenced for child sexual assault

“The public deserves answers about why Dr. de Villiers, a man who faced charges of sexual assault and interference against a child and was subsequently convicted, was paid $350,000 in the 2022 fiscal year,” Bond said.

“This individual was arrested in June 2021, yet amid horrifying charges, he was inexplicably allowed to return to work and continue to collect his six-figure salary. Even after his arrest, he continued to receive $20,000 in benefits, $24,000 in pension $50,000 in vacation pay.”

Dix responded by saying that government had the obligation to follow the law, noting that de Villiers was immediately fired after his conviction. He repeated that line a second during Question Period, calling de Villiers’ actions “abhorrent.” He expanded on it in an emailed statement to Black Press Media.

“Interior Health’s process during this time aligned with the federal and provincial laws, including employment standards, human rights, occupational health and safety, privacy legislation, and principles of procedural fairness and, where relevant, union collective agreements,” Dix said. “It is any employer’s obligation to follow the law – and once Dr. de Villiers was found guilty in a court of law, Interior Health fired him. We are not able to comment further on his employment duties during that time due to privacy obligations; however, we can confirm Interior Health had an interim Chief Medical Health Officer in place.”


@wolfgangdepner
wolfgang.depner@blackpress.ca

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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