Doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers across the country are struggling to treat patients flooding into hospital emergency departments. It’s all part of the pandemic pressure and it’s no different in Alberta.
Of course, things could always get worse for all these frontline workers and they did just that last week when it was revealed that Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, had received a huge bonus (228 $000) in addition to his annual salary of $363,000.
It must have felt like a severe slap in the face for nurses, who at some point during the pandemic were told the government was seeking a 3% pay cut. The doctors have been without a contract since February 2020 when the health minister tore it up while negotiations were still ongoing. And what about those long-term caregivers who need two jobs to survive?
“It seems to us that this is just an indication: we will treat frontline workers one way and we will treat the elderly in a completely different way and that is troubling,” said David Harrigan, director. labor relations for United Nurses of Alberta.
After CBC revealed the bonus as it appears in the public service sun list for 2021, a government communications official said Hinshaw deserved it because she had worked so hard over time. No doubt she has worked long hours but she is not paid by the hour; overtime pay is considered part of his generous salary.
And even if she deserved a bonus, why was it so high?
Bonnie Henry, CMOH of British Columbia, did not receive a bonus and she earns less ($342,000 a year) than Hinshaw. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, had a contract from June 2018 to June 2022 that entitled her to a maximum salary of $265,000. The federal government has since increased his maximum salary to $324,000.
Hinshaw’s salary was in no way less than that of officials with similar responsibilities.
But Hinshaw has generated a lot of controversy. Maybe she was paid more for enduring this as she complied with policy decisions made by Premier Jason Kenney and his cabinet that infuriated so many Albertans. She received so many threats that the government paid a private security company over $262,000 to protect her.
Like Kenney, Hinshaw was attacked from all sides. Anti-vaxxers and COVID-19 deniers, who made up much of the UCP’s base, condemned her for ruining their lives with restrictions. Others thought she wasn’t doing enough.
In 2021, when Kenney dropped all pandemic restrictions just before the Calgary Stampede and said it would be the “best summer ever,” Hinshaw lined up.
As expected, the dropping of all restrictions led to another severe wave of COVID-19, along with high hospitalization and death rates and more work for healthcare providers. health. At one point during this wave, Alberta had a COVID-19 death rate three times the national average.
Whenever Hinshaw was asked by the media whether the firm had accepted or rejected her recommendations, she replied that it was a matter of cabinet confidentiality. She had the power to implement restrictions, such as masking and gathering limits, but she always deferred to policy makers.
But the reveal of the bomb bonus isn’t the end of the story. It hit the United Conservative Party leadership race (Kenney resigned in April after a leadership review) like shrapnel that sent most candidates into hiding.
This is because four of the seven candidates were part of the UCP cabinet when this decision was made. One of them, former finance minister Travis Toews, denied knowing anything about the bonus and pledged to change the rules so that in future such awards require ministerial approval.
It’s hard to believe Toews was unaware of such a bonus when he was the one who demanded pay cuts for the nurses. But then again, nothing surprises when it comes to Alberta politics these days.