Alberta’s former chief medical officer of health (CMOH) will take on a new role as a deputy provincial health officer in B.C.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw is on a six-month contract, according to a statement from B.C.’s provincial health officer (PHO) Dr. Bonnie Henry on Wednesday.
“In her new role, Dr. Hinshaw will support the work of the office of the PHO,” said Henry.
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Hinshaw held the CMOH position from January 2019 until November 2022 when she was removed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.
Hinshaw was Alberta’s CMOH for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her leadership often came under fire, particularly when she supported lifting almost all public health restrictions related to COVID-19 in the summer of 2021, which was followed by a massive wave of coronavirus infections in the province.
Hinshaw argued the decision to lift almost all restrictions — a move the province later backtracked on before eventually lifting restrictions again — was based on the fact that COVID-19 could not be eliminated so it was time for Albertans to learn to live with the disease.
At the time, she said getting rid of isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing would allow the province to focus on other health threats, including the opioid deaths and syphilis.
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While some Albertans were critical of Hinshaw when she supported the lifting of public health measures, others voiced opposition to her when she brought in or expressed support for restrictions related to COVID-19.
Dr. Andrew Larder, who has previously served as a medical health officer at both Fraser and Interior Health, will also join the provincial health leadership team “over the next several months.”
“The toxic drug crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing responses to heat, wildfires and outbreaks have shown just how critically important the work we do in public health is in supporting and protecting people and communities throughout B.C.,” said Henry.
“I feel very fortunate to work alongside such talented and dedicated public health experts and I know their expertise will be a great assistance as we emerge from the pandemic and continue to address the many public health challenges facing the province.”
– With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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