Two breastfeeding experts have resigned from Burnaby General Hospital over a dispute involving infant formula giant Nestlé.
Renee Hefti-Graham and Linda Good both quit last week.
The issue began with an invitation circulated through the hospital's e-mail system to a Nestlé-sponsored "wine-and-dine" event to be held June 12.
Both women were adamantly opposed to the event.
And it was criticized by Health Minister George Abbott and the hospital's executive director, Arden Krystal, as a violation of a World Health Organization code that deals with the marketing of breastmilk substitutes.
The code states "no financial or material inducements" may be provided by formula companies to promote their products to health workers.
Nestlé cancelled the event following news of the controversy. Company spokeswoman Catherine O'Brien said yesterday that the formula maker is not in violation of the WHO code because the event was created solely to provide "science-based information."
Hefti-Graham and Good resigned because they felt their boss wasn't supportive of their stance against Nestle.
"She doesn't understand the issues," said Hefti-Graham. "She called [the materials I brought her] propaganda . . . and I've been working in this field for 20 years. I cannot work with a manager who tells me that the information I give her is propaganda."
The nurses' position on Nestlé is backed by the Toronto-based Infant Feeding Action Coalition, which advocates a consumer boycott of Nestlé products for violations of the code, which is not law in Canada.
There is now no lactation consultant at Burnaby General, but other hospital staff are being trained to teach women how to breastfeed.
A spokeswoman for the Fraser Health Authority said the maternity ward's patient-care co-ordinator circulated the invitation, but would not say whether any disciplinary measures had been imposed on the employee, citing privacy rights.