The largest health authority in Nova Scotia has fired one employee and put another on leave after an internal probe alleges both were taking funds from Capital Health.

After a recent internal investigation, an employee in Capital Health’s business office was fired with cause for what the authority deems a financial “discrepancy” of less than $170,000. In a separate incident May 31, police were made aware of a discrepancy of less than $5,000, and a female employee in the accounts payable office was placed on administrative leave.

The funds less than $5,000 have since been recovered, and Halifax Regional Police are now investigating both cases.

“Fraud exists in all organizations,” Amanda Whitewood, Capital Health’s chief financial officer, said Thursday. “And it’s our duty and obligation to share this information and to ensure that we all appreciate the level of diligence that we need to have so that we can address these things as quickly as possible.”

Capital Health, which has upwards of 11,000 employees, spends almost $800 million annually. The amount of funds lost, however, will not affect day-to-day operations, according to Whitewood. “There’s absolutely no impact to direct patient care, today or tomorrow.”

The two employees were subject to criminal record checks, and Whitewood said they will consider using credit checks when hiring for financial operations in the future.

She also said they will try to more actively promote their checks and balances. “Part of the equation on internal discrepancies is to ensure people know that you’re watching, that the organization expects ethical, accountable behaviour,” said Whitewood.

This is the second alleged defrauding of a Nova Scotian health authority in the last year. In November 2009, an Annapolis Valley Health Authority employee was fired after he was charged with stealing more than $400,000 from the joint account of the Annapolis Valley, South Shore, and South West Nova health authorities.

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