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British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall speaks during a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday March 28, 2013.

DARRYL DYCK/The Globe and Mail

The province's top doctor is putting his retirement on hold and will remain in his position for at least one more year.

Just two months ago, Perry Kendall had announced that he would retire on March 31 after 15 years as B.C.'s provincial health officer. But he changed his mind over the holidays.

"I was being interviewed by a local magazine about retirement, and the interviewer – who was also in his 70s – asked 'What does age have to do with it?'" said the 72-year-old Dr. Kendall, adding that the sudden change of heart caught even himself by surprise.

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"It is a little embarrassing," he admitted after making the announcement public on Tuesday afternoon.

"But I enjoy what I'm doing, I think it's meaningful, and it's a privilege to serve in this position," he said, before rattling off a lengthy to-do list that will keep him busy for the coming year.

It includes furthering the province's work in sensible drug policy and harm reduction, continuing to boost the number of healthcare workers who receive the influenza vaccine, and helping the health ministry improve population health and primary care. At the federal level, he says he will continue to advocate for preventing childhood obesity and reducing sodium consumption.

"I had visions of sitting on a beach and thought that's alright from time to time but I need to do things to keep myself active," said Dr. Kendall. Still, he hopes to find more balance in the coming year, perhaps squishing work into four days instead of the usual six.

That would free up more time to spend with his wife, who "disapproves" of the latest decision, and to pursue his hobby of painting landscapes, where he says he "needs to up his game a little bit."

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