The University of British Columbia alleges that the dentist who led its two pilot clinics on Haida Gwaii “personally inappropriately enriched himself,” and the loss was UBC’s.
Last November, the federal government filed a lawsuit against UBC and its former director of post-graduate dentistry, Christopher Zed, after Dr. Zed allegedly misused millions of Health Canada dollars while overseeing UBC dental clinics in Skidegate and Old Massett.
No criminal charges have been filed, and none of the allegations in the lawsuit has been proven in court.
In February, the Skidegate band filed a lawsuit against UBC, Dr. Zed, and the federal government, alleging that Health Canada was negligent in how it administered the dental project, and that both UBC and Dr. Zed were unjustly enriched by it.
In part, the Skidegate band said UBC and Dr. Zed received “thirty-party billings” — fees for non-First Nations dental clients that were supposed to go to the band.
Intended to resolve a shortage of on-island dental care, the Skidegate and Old Massett dental clinics ran from 2001 until 2013.
The first lawsuit — the one filed by the federal government — followed a May 2014 investigation report by UBC that alleges Dr. Zed transferred millions of Health Canada funds for his personal benefit, and hid some $5.1 million from UBC’s “conclusive analysis.”
“Dr. Zed’s spending behaviour contravened the most basic expectations of an official entrusted to manage the Haida Dental Project for the benefit of marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said the UBC report.
UBC responded to the federal lawsuit in June.
Besides the allegation that Dr. Zed enriched himself personally, UBC denied that it was unjustly enriched by the project.
The university also said that in 2002, Dr. Zed, together with the Skidegate band chief, opened a bank account for the Skidegate dental clinic at Northern Savings—an account that was not authorized or supervised by UBC.
By using a Northern Savings membership to open that account, UBC claims that the Skidegate band chief assumed the duty to monitor transactions flowing in and out of the account.
Likewise, UBC said a second unauthorized bank account was opened for the Old Massett dental clinic in 2004.
UBC took issue with two of the claims the federal government made in its lawsuit.
It said the federal government made a mistake when it alleged Dr. Zed deposited $1.2 million to his personal bank account in 2011—the money was actually deposited into the two Northern Savings accounts, it said.
Also, UBC said the federal government was wrong to conclude that all of the $5.1 million in question was spent for personal benefit. The money included “valid expenditures to deliver dentistry services,” it said.
On the issue of third-party billings, UBC said it only agreed they would be retained by the Skidegate band from November 2001 to March 2002. After that period, UBC said the terms of the contract were changed.
Dr. Zed has not responded to the federal lawsuit, although he did respond to the Skidegate band lawsuit saying he was not unjustly enriched by the project.