Dr. Tom Stewart, the CEO of St. Joseph's Health System and Niagara Health, has resigned from his position on Ontario's COVID-19 advisory board after it was revealed he travelled to the Dominican Republic over the holiday season.
Dr. Stewart said that he regretted the non-essential travel, and apologized for his mistake. “I recognize everyone should be avoiding non-essential travel now, including me,” Dr. Stewart said in a statement reported by the Canadian Press via City News.
“As a health system leader, my actions in no way reflect the tireless dedication and commitment of the staff at St. Joseph’s Health System, who continue to live the legacy of our organization every day.”
St. Joseph's Health System includes numerous health sites in Niagara, Hamilton, Brantford, Kitchener and Guelph.
Dr. Stewart is now currently self-isolating at home for two weeks.
Ontario's Deputy Minister of Health Helen Angus released a statement late Tuesday evening accepting Dr. Stewart's resignation from the province's COVID-19 Advisory Table, the long-term care Incident Management System Table and the Health Coordination Table.
“The people of Ontario have made countless sacrifices during the pandemic and it remains critically important that everyone continues to follow public health advice,” the deputy minister's statement said.
Dr. Stewart joined the Ministry of Health's Command Table when it was founded in March 2020, in hopes of providing direction to the province about the coronavirus outbreak.
Since then, all levels of the Canadian government have repeatedly requested that citizens avoid travel abroad during the pandemic.
In a now-deleted tweet from October, Dr. Stewart criticized “reckless and selfish behaviour” for driving the increase in ICU admissions. “Please think about how you can be a hero and save lives before you go out (or better - stay home),” the tweet read.
Numerous Canadian politicians have recently come under fire after being caught or confessing to travelling abroad over the holiday season, including: Rod Phillips, Ontario's now-former finance minister; Tracy Allard, Alberta's now-former municipal affairs minister; and Joe Hargrave, Saskatchewan's now-former highways minister.
Earlier Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed disappointment in federal and provincial politicians who have travelled abroad, despite months of recommendations against non-essential travel.