130 Alberta physicians sign open letter condemning AHS for not hiring Dr. Deena Hinshaw

The letter, addressed to Premier Danielle Smith and AHS Administrator Dr. John Cowell, questioned the 'integrity and ethics' behind the decision not to hire Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

130 Alberta physicians sign open letter condemning AHS for not hiring Dr. Deena Hinshaw
Remove Ads

The saga of Dr. Deena Hinshaw continues after more than 100 Alberta physicians condemned Alberta Health Services (AHS) for revoking her job offer with the Indigenous Wellness Core (IWC). 

"There is no place for leadership which undermines the decisions, recommendations and sovereignty of the Indigenous Wellness Core, and no place for political interference in healthcare delivery," reads the letter.

The letter, addressed to Premier Danielle Smith and AHS Administrator Dr. John Cowell, questioned the "integrity and ethics" behind the decision. The signatories also want Cowell to issue a public apology.

It describes physicians' concerns on the matter as "grave." They are calling for an investigation into the decision after senior IWC medical director Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, resigned from her position.

On June 3, AHS issued a supposedly fabricated retraction claiming, "Dr. Hinshaw is not employed by [us]," as first reported by the Counter Signal. Tailfeathers confirmed the healthcare body did offer Hinshaw employment, contrary to online rumours suggesting otherwise.

Hinshaw did not respond to a request for comment concerning her second firing by AHS.

However, Hinshaw's job offer included a June 5 start date, but AHS revoked it after a furor erupted online. That decision irked Tailfeathers immensely, prompting her to resign.

"I've worked in the position I have because of integrity and because I'm genuinely concerned about Indigenous health," said Tailfeathers, who confirmed the authenticity of the June 3 notice.

"I thought they valued that, and I thought that my experience and wisdom would help guide making some changes and seeing some better outcomes in Indigenous health," she said, referring to Hinshaw being fired again by AHS.

"Metaphorically, it's like the Indian agent still exists. The Indian agent thought he was carrying out the Queen's wishes and the Indians' voice didn't matter."

"We are very concerned with the lack of respect and the lack of validation of Dr. Tailfeathers — and the hiring committee's recommendation — with the Indigenous Wellness Core. And we are concerned that political motives are at play here," said Dr. Neeja Bakshi, an Edmonton physician and signatory of the letter.

The letter had amassed 130 signatures from doctors around the province at 5 pm on Monday.

The press secretaries for Premier Danielle Smith and Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said AHS makes its own hiring decisions, not the Alberta government.

During her weekly radio program, a constituent asked about the Hinshaw controversy. Smith clarified that this is a question for AHS. "You'd have to ask Dr. John Cowell about that," she said.

"These are decisions that are made internally. I was briefed as it was unfolding, and one of the things you would observe about our government is how much we care about Indigenous health.

According to sources, AHS rescinded the job offer given to Hinshaw in May against the wishes of the IWC. If hired, Hinshaw would have served as the IWC Public Health and Preventive Medicine Lead in a part-time capacity.

Tailfeathers commented the team followed all AHS protocols in the hiring process, despite the public uproar stemming from the health bureaucracy's handling of COVID.

"What we were looking for is somebody, of course, who knew provincial public health policy and was well-versed in public health," she said. "We needed a candidate well versed in and understood the Indigenous side of health."

The Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada joined the wave of condemnation, adding: "We should be focused on reconciliation, [yet] we are still fighting for basic sovereignty." 

"[It is 2023, and we are still fighting] over our rightful decision-making authority [regarding] healthcare administration, governance, research and provision in many parts of this country," reads their statement.

"We hope that Alberta Health Services will reflect on the damage this decision has caused and seek to right its relationships with Indigenous physician leaders whom it needs to guide its important work in caring for our relatives."

As the province's former chief medical officer of health, Hinshaw nearly became a secretive AHS hire after being unceremoniously fired last November by Smith.

In February, the UCP worked quickly to create a panel to review their governance lapses during the pandemic to improve future responses to health emergencies. The province has named five members to the COVID review panel, led by former Reform Party leader Preston Manning.

The premier expressed remorse over the province's handling of the pandemic by failing to scale up hospital capacity as promised and forcing the government to impose "freedom-busting" health restrictions.

Manning, announced as chair in January, will receive a stipend of $253,000 and a total budget of $2 million to conduct the investigation. He will propose recommendations to Smith in the coming months and follow up with a final report by November 15.

Remove Ads
Remove Ads

Rebel News Store

Purchase your new wardrobe staple today at the Rebel News Store.

Buy Now

Don't Get Censored

Big Tech is censoring us. Sign up so we can always stay in touch.

Remove Ads