The CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System has resigned from the province’s COVID-19 advisory table after he vacationed in the Caribbean over the holidays despite government advisories and rising coronavirus cases in Ontario.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health said it “has accepted Dr. Tom Stewart’s resignation from the Health Coordination Table, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and the LTC (long-term care) Incident Management System Table.”
“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 Ministry of Health continued in its statement. “We all have a part to play to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
A statement from Brian Guest, the senior vice-president of the health system which has six different member organizations, said Stewart was on “approved vacation” from Dec. 18 to Jan. 5. During that time, he travelled to the Dominican Republic.
“We recognize and value the efforts of all our staff who have been working tirelessly and with great dedication,” Guest said.
“We encourage and support our staff taking vacation time while following public health advice.”
Stewart, who is listed as a member of the Ontario government’s COVID-19 response advisory table and is also the CEO of Niagara Health, apologized for the trip in quotes attributed to him in the statement.
“I regret this non-essential travel and I’m sorry,” he said.
“I recognize everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me. As a health system leader, my actions in no way reflect the tireless dedication and commitment of the staff at St. Joseph’s Health System, who continue to live the legacy of our organization every day.”
The Canadian government has advised against non-essential travel outside of the country since March amid the pandemic.
The Ontario government also asks residents to stay home except for essential reasons.
Stewart is now in isolation at home for two weeks.
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