Health Minister Patty Hajdu has been using a federal jet more frequently than her department previously admitted, all while telling Canadians to refrain from any non-essential travel.
According to a report in Blacklock's Reporter, Department of Transport documents tabled in the House of Commons show that Hajdu used a government jet to fly between Ottawa, Winnipeg and her home in Thunder Bay, Ontario during the same period she was instructing Canadians to stay home.
Hajdu's department had previously admitted to around a handful of flights aboard the private aircraft, though the report revealed in the House shows that she flew privately at taxpayers expense 11 times.
“We are asking Canadians really to conduct only essential business, going to the grocery store, going to the post office, going to the pharmacy,” Hajdu told reporters late in March when public health officers across the country were issuing shutdown orders. “Think again and stay home.”
The minister's flights aboard a Cessna Citation C550, an aircraft that can carry seven passengers but was only used for Hajdu, cost taxpayers more than $70,000.
“Let me be perfectly clear: We will use every measure in our toolbox at the federal level to ensure compliance,” Hadju sternly told Canadians on March 22. “The advice is getting stronger and stronger, and with that advice will be coming more and more penalties if people don't listen.”
Hajdu previously defended herself by stating that she considered herself an essential worker, making travel between Ottawa and Thunder Bay necessary, despite no evidence suggesting she was doing “essential work” during her trips home.