The wife of a former Kelowna RCMP sergeant who died at age 41 has sued the provincial government, alleging his terminal brain cancer came as a result of the hazardous conditions he was exposed to while carrying out his duties as an officer.
In a lawsuit filed earlier this week, Courtney Jones claims her husband, Michael (Mick) Harding, was exposed to “hazardous physical and gaseous conditions” over the 18 years he was an active-duty RCMP officer, and he was allegedly not provided adequate personal protective equipment while he carried out his duties.
Harding joined the RCMP in 2000 at just 22 years old and worked throughout the Lower Mainland until he was promoted to sergeant in Kelowna in 2018.
He married Jones in August 2011 and the couple had three children together, who are now six, seven and 10 years old.
But in July of 2018, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and suffered a grand mal seizure, followed by ongoing partial seizures. According to Jones' suit, the seizures left Harding disabled and suffering from a handful of ongoing symptoms, including impaired memory and judgment, fatigue, narcolepsy, anxiety, mobility issues, loss of speech and other physical issues. He was unable to continue working following the seizure.
On Oct. 4, 2019, a little more than 14 months after suffering the seizure, Harding died.
Jones alleges his death came as a result of his time serving with the RCMP.
“The Glioblastoma and Diffuse Astrocytic Glioma of the brain was caused by or materially contributed by the deceased’s service with the RCMP and was a result of his exposure to the hazardous conditions,” her suit claims.
Jones says her husband was exposed to these conditions at a variety of crime scenes, including fire and drug investigations, where he was not provided with masks or protective clothing. She also says he was never given proper training for entering these hazardous crime scenes or for decontamination afterwards.
In addition to a variety of financial damages Jones claims as a result of her husband's death, she says she's also suffered “loss of love, training, care, guidance and companionship” of her husband and her children's father.
The suit names B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, which is responsible for the RCMP's actions, along with three unknown members of the RCMP who the suit claims were responsible for “implementing Personal Protective Equipment, education and other safety equipment for use” by Harding.
The RCMP did not respond to Castanet's request for comment on the lawsuit. No formal response has been filed by the defendants in the case at this time.