Court fines Manitoba pharmacist $150,000 over unproven claims of Indigenous deaths

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Patient Advocacy Unit said it was unaware of such deaths

(Daren Jorgenson is a Manitoba pharmacist. Facebook photo)

A Manitoba pharmacist has been ordered to pay $150,000 in damages to the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba over unproven allegations involving Indigenous deaths.

Daren Jorgenson of Winnipeg claimed 24 First Nations patients in northern Manitoba died after being unable to access life-saving medications in 2015 and 2016, and he further alleged the College didn’t intervene or investigate.

But the College said it spent “hundreds of man hours” responding to the claims, which caused its staff “fear, stress and anxiety.”

A Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled in the College’s favour on June 3 describing the allegations as “high-handed, malicious, persistent and egregious.”

Jorgenson alleged the unproven deaths were the result of a beef between two pharmacies after one lost a government contract to the other to provide prescription services to northern Manitoba First Nations.

The judge said while Jorgenson believes the deaths to be true, Jorgenson offered no proof or even the name of one patient that died.

Numerous individuals

Jorgenson made the claim to numerous individuals and organizations, and alleged the College was part of a “very widespread cover-up.”

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Patient Advocacy Unit said it was unaware of any such deaths.

APTN Investigates took a look at the case using Freedom of Information in 2017. But, because of patient confidentiality, the 54-page report was heavily redacted and didn’t clarify if there were deaths.

Jorgenson said he will appeal the June 3 ruling.

“We expected this decision based on the fact that this Justice denied me my right to a trial by jury and she also denied me even one single witness,” he said.

Host/Producer - Winnipeg

Melissa is a proud Red River Metis and award-winning journalist who has spent more 14 years covering crime, courts, politics, business and entertainment for newspapers in four provinces.
She then joined APTN Investigates in 2009 and APTN National News in 2018 and in that time has garnered numerous awards and nominations including from the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (2013), Canadian Association of Journalists (2016, 2019) and Canadian Screen Awards (2018, 2019).