What to expect from a Hinshaw replacement prompted by Premier Smith
Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
Dr. Deena Hinshaw who used to be the front-facing figure of Alberta’s COVID-19 response is temporarily being replaced by the vice president and medical director of Cancer Care Alberta, Dr. Mark Joffe, as the new interim chief medical officer of health (CMOH) for the province.
Joffe has worked for Alberta Health Services for more than 25 years and currently holds the vice president and medical director positions for the province’s Clinical Support Services and Provincial Clinical Excellence. The Calgary native also teaches in the department of medicine at the University of Alberta.
Joffe feels honoured to take on the role saying, “I have always put the needs of my patients first and foremost throughout my career, which will continue as I take on this new challenge,” in a press release from the government.
Joffe also used to be the chairman of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Medical Staff Society and a two-term president of Capital Region Medical Staff Association, as well as president of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases of Canada.
Jason Copping, the minister of health in Alberta, looks forward to working with Joffe and commends his commitment to public health.
“Dr. Joffe has dedicated himself to improving the health of Albertans throughout his career. He brings this wealth of experience and knowledge to the role of chief medical officer of health,” Copping says from that same press release.
Copping also acknowledges Hinshaw’s past efforts for the position, saying, “I also wish to thank Dr. Deena Hinshaw for her service and dedication to Albertans through the past several years.”
During her first press conference as the province’s premier back in Oct. 11, Danielle Smith told the press that although she appreciates what Hinshaw has done in the past, she will not be retaining her in that position. Instead, she will be developing “a new team of public health advisors.”
“I think that we are in a new phase where we are now talking about treating coronavirus as endemic as we do with influenza,” Smith adds as to why she’s removing Hinshaw.
Hinshaw started as the CMOH of Alberta in January 2019 up until a fixed term ending on Jan. 26, 2024.
During Hinshaw’s term and the height of the pandemic in Alberta, she gave hundreds of COVID-19 updates, advisories to government officials and many key rules and restrictions including vaccines, stay-at-home mandates and business requirements.
Some of the changes that can be expected from a CMOH selected by Smith can be concluded from her previous statements regarding COVID-19 policies and vaccine mandates.
Back in Nov. 9, Smith sent a mandate letter to Minister of Justice Tyler Shandro and part of that is the expectation that Shandro must “take any necessary legislative or regulatory steps to prohibit discrimination on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination and/or booster status.”
In her first press conference, Smith talked about how she thinks that people who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 were the most discriminated group that she has witnessed in her lifetime.
“The community that faced the most restrictions on their freedoms in the last year were those who made a choice not to be vaccinated. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a situation in my lifetime, where a person was fired from their job, not allowed to watch their kids play hockey, or not allowed to go visit a loved one in long-term care or hospital,” Smith said when asked by a reporter about vaccine choices and how she’s trying to protect that right under the Human Rights Act.
This statement was met with a huge amount of criticism online, making the point that there have been many other marginalized groups that have been discriminated against in more ways than those who chose to be unvaccinated.