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OPSEU leaders demand resignation of Thomas Stewart as CEO of Niagara/Hamilton hospitals

Toronto – The leaders of OPSEU/SEFPO are demanding the full resignation of Thomas Stewart as CEO of Niagara Health and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton after revelations that he vacationed in the Dominican Republic over the holidays.

“There can be no half-measures during a lockdown, and there can be no half-measures in the consequences people face for ignoring the lockdown,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Stewart knows it was inappropriate for him to leave the country during the worst of this pandemic. He should also know he’s lost the trust of the people who work in his hospitals and who are receiving care in his hospitals. He must go.”

Since it was revealed that he violated the lockdown on non-essential travel by jetting off to his “private home” in the Dominican Republic over the holidays, Stewart has voluntarily stepped down from three COVID-19 advisory groups: the Health Coordination Table, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, and the Long-Term Care Incident Management System Table.

But OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says that resigning from advisory groups does not undo the damage.

“If he’s got a private home in the Dominican, this guy is clearly doing very well on the public payroll,” said Almeida. “But as all of our health care members know so well, being on the public payroll in health care comes with the responsibility of not putting people’s health at risk.

“Taking a Caribbean vacation during this pandemic was a terrible decision that put at risk the lives of countless Ontarians. It was a breach of ethical responsibility that not only let down his patients and colleagues, but every citizen in the province.”

If Stewart won’t voluntarily step down over this, Thomas is urging the province to take matters into its own hands.

“We all know the Finance Minister was strongly encouraged to resign because of his ethical breach travelling during the lockdown,” said Thomas. “We expect our leaders to lead by example. During a health crisis, that’s especially true of the leaders of our hospitals. Stewart has to be told that he must do the right thing and step down.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931