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The Sunshine list was recently published and has me reeling over the salary of the Medical Officer of Health in our region. In a time when people were finding themselves out of work, working and providing childcare, perhaps losing their businesses and livelihoods, the Board of Health for the Grey Bruce Health Unit thought it reasonable to pay one man $631,510.22 for one year’s work.

Grey Bruce has done well throughout this pandemic. I don’t for a second want to undervalue the hours put in by the many Public Health staff, managers and the MOH himself. I also don’t want to suggest that there is a price to put on lives saved. That being said, I have questions about why this MOH, in particular, responsible for a sparsely populated region, was paid $200,000 more than Ontario’s Chief MOH with a whopping $631,510.22 for 2020.

How can the Board of Health justify paying one person so much?

The Board of Health recently released a letter referring to the MOH's non-stop work and commitment to the community. While I applaud the commitment to responding to the pandemic, I do not believe this is vastly different than all the other essential workers who have been working very long hours and spending days and nights away from family. Does the Board of Health truly believe that a single person’s response is the reason we have done so well in our region? Surely there are many other factors that have contributed to our lower cases, such as a lower population density than large cities, fewer large industrial employers, fewer large multi-unit dwellings, lower reliance on public transport, among others.

The MOH for Toronto, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has worked as a public health physician since 2004 and is responsible for 3.5 million people . The MOH for Ottawa, Dr. Vera Etches, has worked as a public health physician since 2005 and is responsible for almost 1 million people. Both of these women, dealing with the same pandemic and making the same personal sacrifices, were paid around half of what Dr. Ian Arra, who has worked as a public health physician for about a third of the time that they have, was paid in 2020.

I would like a response to the community that is much more than overtime hours worked, because it is impossible to believe that the hours of overtime needed for our region was vastly more than any other region in Ontario.

- a Grey-Bruce healthcare worker



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