UCP MUST EXPLAIN $28,000 PAYMENT TO SENIOR STAFFER WHO LEFT GOVERNMENT AMID ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
EDMONTON – Jason Kenney’s UCP government must explain why a senior staffer who left government amid allegations of sexual harassment was paid more than $28,000 several months after his departure.
Ivan Bernardo, former senior adviser to then-Health Minister Tyler Shandro, is named in a lawsuit filed by Ariella Kimmel, another former senior UCP staffer. In her statement of claim, Kimmel alleges that Bernardo sexually harassed a female member of her staff.
When asked about Kimmel’s claims on Oct. 27, Kenney told the legislature “I was informed by my chief of staff late last fall about rumours circulating about inappropriate comments being made to female staffers by that individual. I was assured that action was being taken, and shortly thereafter that individual’s contract ended with the government.”
Media reports indicate Bernardo was not fired, but left his position in December of 2020 when his contract expired. Bernardo went to work at a Calgary law firm, where he did legal work for AHS.
Kimmel was fired by the UCP in February of 2021.
But in the Government of Alberta’s quarterly expense disclosure, Alberta Health reports $28,130.77 worth of direct payments to Bernardo sometime between April 1 and September 30 of 2021, months after he left his position in Shandro’s office.
When asked about the payment in Question Period yesterday, Health Minister Jason Copping falsely attempted to conflate it with payments made by AHS for legal work.
“These are Government of Alberta payments, not AHS payments,” said Janis Irwin, NDP Critic for the Status of Women. “So let’s be clear. The woman who filed a complaint of sexual harassment was fired by this UCP government, but one of the men named in her complaint not only walked straight into well-paid work with AHS, he also received a massive payment from Alberta Health.
“Jason Kenney needs to explain why his government paid Mr. Bernardo more than $28,000, months after the premier claims he was shown the door,” Irwin added.
“This sends an appalling message to women who work in the legislature, that speaking up about sexual harassment will put their job at risk, while those named in their complaint will have their incomes carefully protected.”