Premier Danielle Smith has followed through on her pledge to remove Dr. Deena Hinshaw from her position as Alberta’s chief medical officer of health and is hiring a familiar face to replace her.
The Alberta goverrnment confirmed Monday afternoon that Dr. Mark Joffe, who has spoken to Albertans on numerous occasions during the COVID-19 pandemic at Alberta Health news conferences, will replace Hinshaw effective immediately.
Before being appointed as Alberta’s new CMOH, Joffe served as vice-president and medical director of Cancer Care Alberta, clinical support services and provincial clinical excellence.
Joffe’s biography page on the Alberta Health Services website says his “diverse clinical experience includes his specialty practice in infectious diseases.” The Calgary native has worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton as well as at the Edmonton Sexually Transmitted Diseases Centre and the Edmonton Institution for Women.
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Since becoming premier last month, Smith has said she would be replacing Hinshaw and finding new people to give her government advice on decisions related to public health.
Smith has been fiercely critical of how Alberta’s government has dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. She plans to amend the Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination against people who choose not to get vaccinated for COVID-19. The premier has said she believes unvaccinated people are the most discriminated group she has come across in her life.
Hinshaw was Alberta’s CMOH for the entire duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her leadership often came under fire, particularly when she supported lifting almost all public health restrictions related to COVID-19 in the summer of 2021, which was followed by a massive wave of coronavirus infections in the province.
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Hinshaw argued the decision to lift almost all restrictions — a move the province later backtracked on before eventually lifting restrictions again — was based on the fact that COVID-19 could not be eliminated so it was time for Albertans to learn to live with the disease.
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At the time, she said getting rid of isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing would allow the province to focus on other health threats, including the opioid deaths and syphilis.
More to come…
–With files from The Canadian Press
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