Less than a month after news broke that their boss had been fired, two of Alberta’s other top doctors have resigned from their jobs in the provincial government, Health Minister Jason Copping revealed Wednesday.
Copping was asked about the departure by NDP health critic David Shepherd during question time at the Alberta legislature.
“I can confirm that the two – both – deputy chief medical officers of health have submitted their resignations. They are still continuing to operate at this time,” Copping said in response.
Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and dr. Jing Hu both worked under the former Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, who was let go in November after Premier Danielle Smith came to power a month earlier.
Smith has previously indicated she believes Hinshaw and other public health leaders in Alberta have not provided the best advice for the province as the hospital system faces severe strain amid multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, who has spoken to Albertans on numerous occasions during the COVID-19 pandemic at Alberta Health news conferences.
Copping did not say when Salvaterra and Hu resigned or give a reason for their decisions.
“We are in the process of actually filling those roles and supporting Dr. Joffe in terms of his role as a chief medical officer of health with all the support he needs to be able to fulfill his function,” Copping added. .
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Salvaterra joined the Alberta Health CMOH office on October 4, 2021 after previously serving as the top physician for Peterborough Public Health in Ontario.
Salvaterra’s Alberta Health biography said she has extensive public health experience. She holds a Masters in Health Research Methodology, specializing in Public Health and Preventive Medicine and is an Adjunct Professor at Queen’s University.
Her career in public health has included work in the areas of the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.
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Hu was appointed as a deputy CMOH on January 27, 2020 and did not have a public presence beforehand.
Hu received her medical degree from Tongji Medical University in Wuhan, China.
Her Alberta Health bio said she completed an internal medicine residency, worked as a respirologist for three years and earned a Ph.D. in medical science before coming to Canada.
From 2014 to 2019, Hu did her training in public health and preventive medicine at the University of Calgary.
The opposition said the loss of more senior leaders was adding chaos to the health care system instead of providing stability and support.
“I fear that the resignations of the Deputy Chief Medical Officers of Health will lead to further chaos,” Shepherd said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
“Danielle Smith gave credit to the opinions of conspiracy theorists like Paul Alexander, who likened the COVID-19 vaccine to a bioweapon, while mocking those of public health experts in Alberta.
“The UCP does not value public health care — and public health experts — at a time when Albertans need it most.”
An Alberta Health spokeswoman confirmed both Salvaterra and Hu had given notice, but did not say when or why.
“Preparations are underway to recruit for the posts of public health doctors. Dr. Joffe has since assumed the duties of the chief medical officer of health full-time as set out in the Public Health Act,” said a statement from Charity Wallace, spokeswoman for the ministry.
“We expect that these changes will have no impact on the department and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”
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