Former Alberta Chief Medical Health Officer Deena Hinshaw has been hired on a six-month contract as British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer.
During the United Conservative Party leadership race last summer, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith campaigned on firing Hinshaw, who was responsible for the province’s Covid-19 response, and made good on that promise shortly after becoming premier.
The BC government said Hinshaw will “support the work of the office of the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, while filling in for another deputy provincial health officer who is on assignment.”
“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,” Henry wrote in a news release.
In her first press conference as premier on Oct. 11, Smith said she would no longer take advice from Hinshaw.
“I will get new advice on public health,” Smith said. “I appreciate the work that Dr. Deena Hinshaw has done, but I think that we’re in a new phase where we are now talking about treating coronavirus (as) influenza.”
In November, the province announced that Dr. Mark Joffe, the vice-president and medical director for Cancer Care Alberta, would take her place. Hinshaw had served as Alberta’s top doctor since Jan. 28, 2019.
Under Hinshaw’s leadership, the Kenney government implemented vaccine mandates and closed schools and churches. Alberta Health Services officers visited churches to ensure Covid protocols were being met, and those that did not comply were fined or shut down.
Some of those charges are now being dropped. In November, Alberta Pastor Tim Stephens was acquitted on charges of violating the province’s public health orders which required physical distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stephens spent a total of 21 days in jail in regards to the charges.
Hinshaw also faced backlash across the province after it was revealed she received a nearly $228,000 Covid bonus in 2021, on top of her $363,633.92 salary. That marked the largest cash benefit payout of any provincial civil servant.