An Ontario hospital CEO expressed regret Tuesday and resigned his roles advising the provincial government after taking a trip to the Dominican Republic as several politicians across the country have been feeling the wrath of public opinion for travelling despite pandemic rules.
Tom Stewart, CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System in Hamilton – a member of both the Ontario government’s COVID-19 science and command tables – took an “approved vacation” from Dec. 18 to Jan. 5, according to a statement from Brian Guest, St. Joseph’s senior vice-president and corporate secretary, and travelled to the Dominican Republic during that time. He said Dr. Stewart would be self-isolating for two weeks upon his return.
“I regret this non-essential travel and I’m sorry,” Dr. Stewart was quoted as saying in the statement. “I recognize everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me.”
St. Joseph’s also operates health care facilities in Guelph, Brantford and Kitchener, and Dr. Stewart is also CEO of the Niagara Health network of hospitals.
The revelation, reported by the CBC, comes just days after the province’s finance minister, Rod Phillips, resigned after taking a December trip to the exclusive resort island of St. Barts.
In a statement late Tuesday, the Ontario Ministry of Health said deputy minister Helen Angus had accepted Dr. Stewart’s resignation from the province’s COVID-19 advisory committees, including a committee advising it on long-term care.
“The people of Ontario have made countless sacrifices during the pandemic and it remains critically important that everyone continues to follow public health advice,” the statement reads. “We all have a part to play to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
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