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OPSEU/SEFPO demands action against Royal Ottawa Hospital manager who vacationed abroad

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Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is demanding a manager at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre be fired after revelations she defied public health rules and Premier Doug Ford’s plea to avoid unnecessary travel by traveling abroad over the holidays.

In a letter to hospital President/CEO Joanne Bezzubetz, Thomas identified the union’s concern that Joan Garrow, a hospital director, had not only defied public health guidelines, but that she was permitted to work from home during her two-week quarantine despite a memo to staff that they would not be granted such permission.

“These empty-headed elites think they’re in a league of their own,” said Thomas. “It is remarkably inappropriate that this director would be rewarded for breaking the rules, especially when she has shown a shocking lack of support for her own staff who are struggling to balance family demands during this difficult time.”

Public health officials have been urging Canadians to avoid non-essential travel for months to stem the spread of COVID-19. The union says that after a year in pandemic mode, COVID fatigue is real and senior health officials who ignore public health advice undermine public confidence in the rules. OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida calls this dangerous and reckless.

“Garrow’s decision to vacation abroad goes beyond poor judgement,” said Almeida. “It’s hypocritical, cruel and it shows a complete disregard for public health and safety. These actions erode the public and staff’s trust in hospital leadership.

“Garrow has lost the trust of the public, the people who work at the Royal Ottawa Hospital and the patients they support,” said Almeida. “She should be fired.”

While Garrow is just the latest in a string of high-profile politicians and hospital executives caught flouting COVID rules, the union says it’s time for rule breakers to face their just desserts.

“We’ve all been asked to make sacrifices for the greater good, while front line heroes put themselves in harm’s way every day,” said Thomas. “Members of hospital management must be held to the highest possible standard and lead by example.

“There’s no room for this kind of cavalier attitude in the ranks of hospital management,” said Thomas. “And empty apologies aren’t good enough. The hospital board must take firm action against her – to say this behaviour won’t be tolerated, no matter how high-up you rank. Front-line workers and the public are watching.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931
OPSEUCommunications@opseu.org