N.B. drops appeal of $2M payout to fired Horizon CEO Dr. John Dornan

The Higgs government has dropped its appeal of a record-breaking $2-million payout to the fired head of Horizon Health Network, Dr. John Dornan.In a statement Monday, Health Minister Bruce Fitch announced the province and Dornan have “reached a mutually satisfactory resolution with respect to the termination of Dr. Dornan’s employment as CEO of Horizon.””As such, the Province of New Brunswick has withdrawn its appeal,” which was scheduled to be heard on Friday in Fredericton, he said.No other information has been provided.Premier Blaine Higgs publicly announced Dornan’s firing during a news conference July 15, 2022, following the death of a patient in the waiting room of the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital’s emergency department in Fredericton.It was part of a larger shakeup of New Brunswick’s health-care leadership that saw Dorothy Shephard replaced as health minister and the boards of both Horizon and Vitalité removed.Dornan, who announced last week he will seek the Liberal nomination for the riding of Portland-Simonds, in Saint John’s north end, declined an interview Monday, but did email a statement.”Other than to say that I’m glad an agreement has been reached, I have no further comments at this time,” he said.Judge previously upheld decisionDornan had served as president and CEO of Horizon for only four months of his five-year contract when he was fired.He filed for unjust dismissal under the Public Service Labour Relations Act and in February 2023, adjudicator George Filliter awarded him special damages of about $1.8 million, representing the value of lost salary, pension contributions and health benefits, plus $200,000 in aggravated damages for “breach of the employer’s implied obligation to act in good faith when dismissing him.”It was the largest employment compensation award in the province’s history, according to Dornan’s lawyers.The province requested a judicial review, seeking to have the award quashed, but Court of King’s Bench Justice Kathryn Gregory upheld the labour arbitrator’s decision last December.The province subsequently appealed, arguing Gregory “erred in fact and law.”

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