Leading Doug Ford says healthcare facility board has to make ‘tough decision’ about CEO’s Caribbean getaway

Calls are mounting for the board of St Joseph’s Well being System to consider motion immediately after its CEO vacationed in the Caribbean whilst staff in Hamilton, Niagara, Brantford, Guelph and Kitchener “put their lives on the line” battling COVID-19.

Dr. Tom Stewart took a loved ones trip to his non-public household in the Dominican Republic over the vacations and returned Tuesday, states an apology acquired by The Spectaor that was sent to staff members by e-mail Wednesday.

The Canadian Union of Community Workforce (CUPE) alleges St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton fired a registered useful nurse in November for traveling to the United States to take a look at her mother and father although the federal and provincial governments advise towards non-necessary global vacation to stop the distribute of COVID-19.

“The medical center has to account for its very own contradictory conduct,” mentioned Michael Hurley, president of CUPE’s Ontario Council of Hospital Unions. “It functions decisively, on the a person hand, for its lessen-position staff who travel, but with regard to the CEO, it appears to be very accepting.”

The Ontario General public Support Workers Union (OPSEU) suggests Stewart “must go” either by resigning or the province stepping in.

“Taking a Caribbean vacation in the course of this pandemic was a horrible choice that put at chance the life of numerous Ontarians,” union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas explained in a assertion. “It was a breach of moral duty that not only permit down his patients and colleagues, but each citizen in the province.”

Premier Doug Ford said it is up to the health system’s board — not the provincial governing administration — to determine what to do about the trip. Despite the fact that he mentioned that MPP Rod Phillips resigned as finance minister on Dec. 31 immediately after returning from a two-week Caribbean trip to St. Barts.

“They’re going to have to make a hard determination,” said Ford. “I created the tricky determination with my finance minister.”

Phillips is a person of a increasing listing of Canadian politicians to come below fire for worldwide vacations, such as Conservative MP for Flamborough-Glanbrook David Sweet, who travelled to the United States and has since resigned from his part as ethics committee chair while saying he will not seek re-election.

“We consider it incredibly severely when people are not following the guidance,” Ford explained at a news meeting targeted on how COVID-19 has been obtaining into Ontario from outdoors of Canada.

Stewart’s journey has currently prompted his resignation from a range of boards that offer COVID-19 suggestions to the province, together with the Wellbeing Co-ordination Desk, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and the Very long-Term Treatment Incident Administration System Desk.

Now aim has turned to his management of a huge well being-care program that consists of St. Joseph’s Health care Hamilton, Niagara Health and fitness, St. Mary’s Typical Healthcare facility in Kitchener, St. Joseph’s Well being Centre in Guelph, St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre in Brantford, St. Joseph’s Villa in Dundas and St. Joseph’s Residence Care.

“How individuals employees go to operate each working day, respecting their CEO and taking course from somebody who just so flagrantly ignored the assistance and the policies all-around non-essential vacation — that is a dilemma I hope the board is inquiring itself,” stated NDP Chief Andrea Horwath. “Those workers, I’m sure, are wanting to know how can this be the situation that they are making these types of sacrifices though their CEO is off jaunting around on a seaside in the course of the Xmas vacations.”

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) stated Stewart “ought to have acknowledged better.”

“Where is the board on this?” stated CEO Doris Grinspun, who known as the journey “disappointing” and “shocking.”

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger claimed elected officers and senior leaders in the local community “do not have a independent set of procedures from anyone else and are becoming held accountable for their foolish actions.”

A assertion attributed to St. Joseph’s Health and fitness Method senior vice-president Brian Guest claimed it was an accepted vacation from Dec. 18 to Jan. 5. But no answers were delivered about whether or not the board understood Stewart was vacationing internationally or no matter if any other wellbeing system leaders travelled.

Hamilton Wellbeing Sciences and Mohawk College or university have both of those reported none of their leaders travelled internationally above the holidays, even though Burlington’s Joseph Brant Hospital said its senior leadership crew hasn’t left the country in the course of the entire pandemic.

“I produced a regrettable final decision to journey outdoors of the state for which I am actually sorry,” states the apology despatched to staff on behalf of Stewart. “I know that my conclusion to travel was incorrect and that you are dissatisfied in me. My greatest regret, after you have sacrificed so a great deal in excess of the final 10 months, is that I have enable you down.”

The e-mail was termed “appalling” by a Niagara Well being worker, who spoke on the situation of anonymity simply because they were being not approved to talk publicly about their exceptional.



“He did not even apologize to us himself,” stated the worker. “If he preferred to apologize, he need to have done it himself, not have it sent by electronic mail as a result of anyone else.”

The employee said hospital system staff members, confused by growing cases, individual deaths and outbreaks, have been deeply insulted by Stewart’s trip. They had been also annoyed that he was out of the state when the healthcare facility process — and the region — wanted somebody with the premier’s ear to advocate for COVID-19 vaccines for Niagara.

“Where was he? He was not advocating to get our health professionals and nurses vaccinated. He was in the Dominican,” the staff said.

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton held a town hall for workers Wednesday, but a resource says Stewart did not show up at. Screenshots of personnel reviews present quite a few inquiries about why he wasn’t existing.

“Where are you Tom Stewart,” states one particular remark. “Have the guts to display your confront and don’t go away it to an individual else to apologize. You have dropped our regard.”

Horwath says the board requires to “send a sturdy signal to people personnel that notwithstanding the motion of the CEO that in reality that their perform is valued.”

“I would recommend that the board at St. Joe’s requirements to consider some action to clearly show … they fully grasp that this was unacceptable and one thing requires to be done about it,” explained Horwath, MPP for Hamilton-Centre. “This is a guy who is liable for hundreds and hundreds of health and fitness treatment workers that just about every and each day … place their lives on the line.”

Both equally CUPE and RNAO mentioned numerous overall health-treatment workers saw their time off at Christmas cancelled as the 2nd wave of COVID-19 is on a steep rise, pushing hospitals and seniors’ homes to their boundaries.

“The excellent irony there is that extremely few clinic workers basically get holidays permitted over the Christmas period,” reported Hurley. “You would hope that the healthcare facility executives would exhibit management which is not, ‘You can’t have any trip but we’ll be using ours.’”

Grinspun said she worked in excess of the holiday seasons “desperately” seeking to come across workers for long-expression-care properties devastated by outbreaks.

“As the leader … when people are operating on the entrance traces 24-7 and probably the ICU is whole like every other ICU in Ontario — how dare you just choose off on family vacation?” she said. “Front-line wellness-care staff will need us … He owes a massive apology to his possess workers due to the fact if I were being a person of them I’d be devastated.”

Stewart took residence the third greatest community-sector wage in Hamilton in 2019 at $629,715, like taxable rewards.

It’s not the 1st time that his leadership has been questioned. He resigned as Mount Sinai’s prime medical doctor in 2013 amid a scandal relating to 3rd-social gathering contracts involving hundreds of 1000’s of bucks of general public cash with the Ornge air ambulance services.

—With files from Grant LaFleche, The St. Catharines Conventional

Joanna Frketich