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Hospital CEO resigns from Ontario COVID-19 advisory table after holiday trip to Dominican Republic

Last Updated Jan 5, 2021 at 10:51 pm EST

CEO of St. Joseph's Health System Dr. Tom Stewart. Photo credit: https://sjhs.ca/

The CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System and Niagara Health, Dr. Tom Stewart, has resigned from Ontario’s COVID-19 advisory board after travelling to the Dominican Republic over the holidays.

A statement from the Senior Vice President of St. Joseph’s Brian Guest said Stewart had been approved for vacation from Dec. 18 and Jan. 5 and during that time, he travelled to the Dominican Republic.

Stewart said he “regret[s]” this non-essential travel and apologized. “I recognize everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me.”

“As a health system leader, my actions in no way reflect the tireless dedication and commitment of the staff at St. Joseph’s Health System, who continue to live the legacy of our organization every day,” said Stewart in the statement.

He is currently self-isolating at home for two weeks.

St. Joseph’s Health System is made up of several different health sites in Niagara, Hamilton, Brantford, Kitchener & Guelph.

Deputy Minister of Health Helen Angus release a statement late Tuesday night saying she had accepted his resignation from the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, the LTC Incident Management System Table and the Health Coordination Table,.

“The people of Ontario have made countless sacrifices during the pandemic and it remains critically important that everyone continues to follow public health advice,” read the statement.

In March, the Ministry of Health welcomed Stewart to the government’s Command Table that was set up to provide strategic direction to the province about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A number of politicians have recently admitted to leaving the country over the December holiday period, even as their constituents adhered to public health guidance meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, including Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips who has since resigned from his role.

The federal and provincial government have both repeatedly asked Canadians not to travel abroad during the pandemic and urged citizens to avoid gathering with family outside their household over the holidays.

Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment in federal and provincial politicians who have travelled abroad, despite months of recommendations against non-essential travel.

With files from The Canadian Press