The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) spent $18,902 in 2019 to give its former president a private washroom.

First reported by Blacklock’s Reporter, in a recent disclosure to the House of Commons, PHAC revealed that an “executive washroom” was installed in the office of former president Kristina Namiesniowski.

Namiesniowski was appointed president of PHAC in 2019 for a five-year term with an annual salary of $273,700.

In September 2020, Namiesniowski abruptly resigned from PHAC, telling staff she needed a break after months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I need a break,” she wrote in an email.

“Since it makes no sense for the Agency to be without a President for any length of time given current circumstances, I feel I must step aside so someone else can step up.” 

PHAC had previously claimed to be extremely prepared for potential pandemics. In a 2019 internal memo, the agency said it had amassed an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) and could meet rush orders for supplies within a day, if necessary.

However, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, PHAC was very unprepared. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam later admitting not enough PPE had been stockpiled.

“There was definitely a small amount. It wasn’t a lot,” Dr. Tam said of the stockpile.

In spring 2019, PHAC disposed of 2 million N95 masks and 440,000 medical gloves after closing its stockpile warehouse in Winnipeg. The discarded PPE was never replaced.

Despite the PPE shortage, which cost billions to address during the pandemic, Health Minister Patty Hadju had avoided taking responsibility and instead shifted blame to provincial health authorities.

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