tom stewart

Ontario hospital CEO loses role on COVID-19 advisory table for vacationing over holidays

Hospital CEO and Ontario COVID-19 advisory panel member Dr. Tom Stewart is the latest Canadian official to be outed for embarking on unnecessary travel — and to lose at least one of their positions because of it.

It was confirmed on Tuesday that Stewart, who helms multiple hospitals through St. Joseph's Health System and Niagara Health, had taken a vacation to the Dominican Republic over December's holidays, returning only yesterday after more than two sunny weeks abroad.

St. Joseph's issued a statement in which he apologized for his actions, acknowledging that "everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me."

"I regret this non-essential travel and I'm sorry," he continued. "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."

The critical care doctor, a father of two, not only served as the president and CEO of healthcare facilities but was also a member of a number of health tables, including, shockingly enough, the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, which, among other things, creates and releases modelling projections and other data to inform the province's pandemic response.

He stepped down from that role, as well as from the LTC Incident Management System Table and the Health Coordination Table, in the wake of the blunder.

Stewart is just the latest of at least a dozen Canadian politicians or health officials who have been busted for taking personal trips while their governments have been ordering residents to stay home and isolate as much as possible amid record-high COVID-19 case counts.

It is unclear whether Stewart will be fired or pressured to step down from his positions at St. Joseph's and Niagara, but many are now calling for it.

The same is happening with former Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips, who resigned from that post after being caught indulging in the beaches of St. Bart's and trying to hide it, but still remains an MPP for Ajax.

It's safe to say that though non-essential travel is technically possible and quite easy despite border "closures," it is far more than frowned upon in the current climate, especially by people who have been avoiding taking much-needed trips and other normal life activities because they've been perpetually implored to do so by officials who aren't heeding that order themselves.

Lead photo by

St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton

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