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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Disempowering the Chief Public Health Officer - another blow to the Canadian public health infrastructure

The new Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO)  is facing his second test.  Dr. Taylor is merely a month into his tenure when the federal government announced that they are restructuring the senior approach to management at the Public Health Agency of Canada and separately the medical leadership from the mundane administrative functions.  Gone are the seemingly insignificant functions of acting as a deputy minister, of controlling how and where resources are directed, and presumably gone are making key hiring decisions including that of the new president.  Globe and mail November 12 Thus the new president of the agency becomes a political appointment and not selected for their prowess in public health, a trend that has castrated public health entities across the country outside of Ontario.

If you are looking for details, check out bill C43, Sections 253 through 258. It is buried in another of Harper’s omnibus pieces of legislation that contain some 400 sections with key changes that are buried treasure for those looking for reasons to criticize the current government.

All this is not surprising in an agency that has been a thorn to the Conservatives since elected. 
That Dr. Taylor was conveniently unavailable for comment on such a critical issue is notable, as is the carefully prepared statement that he appears supportive.  As DrPHealth stated at the time of the announcement September 25th posting  “With all respect to the person and the position, the announcement is one more step in Harper's alienation of health in general and public health specifically.”

More surprising are the public health leaders noting that such has been the trend nationally and something that might be welcomed.

This right on the heels of the embarrassing Canadian handling of movement of residents, workers, visitors and responders in the countries with persistent intense transmission of Ebola.  All good public health experts have disagreed with Canada’s phobic response, yet the CPHO has been silent and has not publically spoken on Canada’s misinformed approach to protection from Ebola. 

To his credit, we have the CPHO report  that mitigates some of the major slips, but right now the score is 2 against and 1 for. 

Greg, you have some major scoring to do to get back in the game.  

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