Coronavirus: Health minister’s comments ‘outrageous,’ says Winnipeg doctor

A Winnipeg doctor is hitting back after comments made by Manitoba’s health minister regarding the province’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier this week, minister Cameron Friesen called the timing of two letters signed by hundreds of Manitoba doctors into question, suggesting they came at the perfect time to create chaos.

Dr. Eric Jacobsohn, who works in intensive care at both St. Boniface Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, told 680 CJOB the letters were an accurate description of a very serious situation, without any political motives whatsoever.

“The situation out there is dire right now,” Jacobsohn said.

“There appears to be, at least for those of us on the front lines, a paucity or deficiency in resources in some areas. The intention of this was not motivated by malice or anything sinister.”

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Read more: NDP slams Manitoba health minister over comments that province’s doctors ‘creating chaos’

Jacobsohn said the province’s doctors want to be part of the solution, and that the minister’s accusations are way off-base.

“[The sending of the letters] was to try and vocalize what we were seeing on the front lines,” he said.

“We want to contribute… to suggest to us and all those that are busy caring for patients, that there’s some kind of ulterior motive, is outrageous.”

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Read the letter:

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More than 200 Manitoba doctors signed letters saying the pandemic is spiralling out of control in this province, citing rising case numbers and multiple outbreaks at long-term care homes.

Friesen suggested Tuesday, however, that “the people in charge have got this” and that the province should stay the course.

“I have to wonder about the motivation of those doctors, who signed that letter. I know many of them, and I will talk to many of them — and I get it. They’re scared, they want the best for their patients, and I absolutely agree,” Friesen said.

Read more: Premier Brian Pallister asks Manitobans to volunteer at coronavirus test sites

“But I wonder at the motivation to produce that letter, to generate it at a time when they knew it would have maximum effect in causing chaos in the system, when Manitobans need most to understand the people in charge have got this.”

The minister’s comments drew widespread criticism, including from the opposition NDP.

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Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew said Tuesday night that Friesen should be listening to the advice of doctors, rather than questioning their motives.

“That the Minister of Health would question the motivations of Manitoba doctors — who put their lives on the line every day — is more than disrespectful. It’s an attempt to undermine confidence in our front-line health workers and it is yet another comment from this minister that disregards public health science. Manitoba doctors and nurses are motivated by saving lives.”

–With files from Skylar Peters

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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