The former head of Fraser Health has resigned amid a scandal involving personal spending following his move from British Columbia to New Zealand.
After seven years in charge of Fraser Health, Dr. Nigel Murray left in 2014 to move back to New Zealand, where he took a new job as head of the Waikato District Health Board in Hamilton, 130 km south of Auckland.
Murray’s new job paid him about $525,000 per year, but the New Zealand Herald reported last December that Murray had claimed more than $100,000 in travel expenses, including $36,000 to relocate from B.C. Of that money, the Herald reported $10,000 came because Murray left Fraser Health “earlier than expected.”
An independent inquiry followed that revealed that Murray spent “more than the agreed $25,000 (NZD) allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations.”
Murray’s resignation was accompanied by a promise to repay “all outstanding amounts.” He has been on leave since mid-July.
His resignation follows months of scrutiny into Murray’s spending in New Zealand, and past at Fraser Health and the New Zealand health district he worked at before moving to Canada.
In August, New Zealand news outlets reported that the Waikato board had been warned by doctors not to hire Murray, citing a “legacy … of disgruntlement, unhappiness, frustration” when he was working at another New Zealand health district. The chair of the health district, though, said such concerns were acknowledged and checked with Canadian health officials.
While at Fraser Health, Murray spent around $140,000 CAD over an 18 month-span in 2008 and 2009, before later pledging to reduce travel costs. Murray was making $444,000 a year when he left Fraser Health; the current CEO, Michael Marchbank, made $390,089 last year.
During Murray’s tenure, Fraser Health also came under fire for failing to meet its budget, which climbed by nearly 50 per cent, triggering a review initiated by the provincial government.