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OPSEU/SEFPO: Time for world-travelling Royal Ottawa exec to do the right thing and resign

Toronto – As yet another community leader resigns over non-essential travel during the lockdown, OPSEU/SEFPO is renewing its demand that Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre Director Joan Garrow follow suit.

OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas noted that former finance minister Rod Phillips resigned, the CEOs of hospitals in Niagara, Hamilton, and London have been removed, and yesterday, the President of the Board of Community Living Oakville stepped down.

“These people and these organizations have all done the right thing — they’ve owned up to the mistakes they made vacationing abroad, taken responsibility, and accepted the consequences,” said Thomas. “When are Joan Garrow and the Royal Ottawa finally going to do the right thing, too?”

On Feb. 8, Thomas wrote a letter to Deputy Premier and Health Minister Christine Elliott urging her to intervene.

Not only did the hospital’s senior management know that Garrow defied the Public Health guidelines against non-essential travel, it also bent the rules for Garrow so that she could work from home during her two-week quarantine. Many other staff had been told by Garrow herself that, although they had the ability to do so, they could not work from home.

“This is an example of leadership at its very worst, and it has to stop now,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “For one thing, it’s a terrible insult to the front-line health care workers who are making a heroic effort to get us through this pandemic.

“And for another thing, the hospital is setting a terrible example to the public by saying it’s OK for some people to break the Public Health directives over non-essential travel.”

Thomas urged the government, and other community leaders served by the Royal Ottawa, to demand action.

“Enough is enough,” said Thomas. “How can people in Eastern Ontario have faith in the care they get at this hospital when its senior leaders are showing such terrible judgment over the most pressing health issue we’ve faced in generations?

“The longer they wait to act, the more trust they’re going to lose.”

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