Ontario's chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore told a reporter that he can “and will” remove Dr. Matt Strauss from his new position as acting medical officer of health in Haldimand-Norfolk if there are “any concerns regarding the safety and health of that community”.
Dr. Strauss recently came out against the “purported mortality benefits of [the] lockdown[s]”, saying that “more liberal approaches have not demonstrated any mortality reduction from the more stringent policies”.
The remark about removing Dr. Strauss was made after a press conference featuring Dr. Moore, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Kaleed Rasheed, associate minister of digital government, in response to a question from the President of the Queen's Park Press Gallery, Colin D'Mello of CTV News Toronto.
Near the end of the conference, the moderator announced the “final question” of the day would be from Jeff Gray with the Globe and Mail, who quizzed Minister Rasheed on the development of the upcoming app.
After Rasheed answered Gray's followup question, D'Mello interrupted the moderator's attempt to close the floor:
MODERATOR: “Thanks everyone...”
D'MELLO: “Question for Dr. Moore... it is a very important question...”
MODERATOR: “Last question, Colin.”
D'MELLO: “Dr., thank you very much. Sorry, Dr. Moore, this is our only opportunity with you [and it's] once a week, so, Haldimand-Norfolk has confirmed that Dr. Matt Strauss will be the medical officer of health. Last week you had said he was unqualified because he didn't have the credentials needed, specifically to be a local medical officer of health. So, what is the next step here, from your perspective?
“I don't know if I said he's unqualified,” said Dr. Moore, before D'Mello interrupted him to amend that Moore said he didn't possess the “exact qualifications” needed for the position.
Dr. Moore continued:
“He can be appointed as an interim medical officer of health as he is a physician, licenced in Ontario, so that is meeting the basic requirements to be a medical officer of health — interim... we are, and the chief medical officer of health office [is] here to support him, and we'll be staying in regular contact with Haldimand-Norfolk as well as all ...medical officers of health. Um, and be able to consult with him as needed, given that he's new.
“So we'll be supportive of him, and try to... provide guidance... to him in his new position and keep, um, a close partnership with all of our health units, but in particular whenever there's a new interim.”
D'Mello then challenged Dr. Moore on the interim status of Dr. Strauss, incorrectly stating that Strauss had been confirmed. “No,” said Dr. Moore, “He's only an interim and staying as an interim. He cannot be a permanent. A permanent would need the approval of the minister as well as often a review by the chief medical officer of health, and he does not have the qualifications to be a permanent."
The moderator interjected again, saying “Thanks everyone, that's it,” but D'Mello continued to ask his question over her voice:
“And so what would you... need to see, in order to step in? Last week you indicated that you were willing to step in, what would you need to see being done, or not being done in order to step in, in Haldimand-Norfolk.”
And Dr. Moore stayed on to answer that question:
“We will first provide guidance and support... he may be new to outbreak management and to the immunization strategy, and we'll be monitoring adherence to best practices in that region. And if I have any concerns regarding the safety and health of that community, I can step in as the chief medical officer of health. And will.”
And with one last “thank you” from the moderator, the press conference was over.