Alberta’s loss could turn out to be British Columbia’s gain.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who served as Alberta’s public health officer from Jan. 2019 until Alberta’s Premier Danielle Smith fired her in Nov. 2022, will join the office of Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
Henry said in a release Wednesday (Feb. 1) Hinshaw will join the office as deputy provincial health officer on a six-month contract.
It is not clear what Hinshaw’s exact duties will be. The announcement said Hinshaw will support the work of the public health office, while deputy provincial officer Dr. Martin Lavoie is on temporary assignment.
Hinshaw was one of the faces in Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but later faced criticism for relaxing health restrictions in Alberta too soon and being too cozy with the United Conservative government of then-premier Jason Kenny.
Smith, who became Alberta’s Premier in Oct. 2022, later cited what she called “bad decisions” based on “bad advice” from Hinshaw in firing her. Others, including medical professionals, have defended Hinshaw’s record.
Hinshaw’s appointment is part of other personnel changes in Henry’s office. Dr. Andrew Larder, who previously served as a medical health officer at both Fraser and Interior Health, also joins Henry’s team on temporary assignment over the next several months.
“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 said.
Minister of Health Adrian Dix later predicted that Hinshaw won’t be the last doctor to come from Alberta to British Columbia given the work underway in the province and the respect that public health doctors receive.
“We are absolutely delighted to have her come to British Columbia and be part and support our public health care system,” Dix said. “It’s not like a sports free-agent signing, but she is outstanding, she is available and she is going to help our team. Like I said, B.C. is calling.”
- With files from The Canadian Press