Hinshaw’s compensation approached $600,000 in 2021, public records show


Alberta’s top doctor brought home nearly $600,000 in salary and cash benefits in 2021.

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Medical director of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw earned $363,633.92 in salary and $227,911.35 in “cash benefits” last year, according to the Alberta government’s Sunlight list updated last month, which reveals compensation and the salary of civil servants earning above a certain threshold.

That ranks as the highest cash bonus, as well as the highest total pay for a Government of Alberta employee since the province began disclosing this information in 2016.

The compensation spanned a year in which Hinshaw was the public face of Alberta’s COVID-19 response, including launching the vaccine and implementing public health measures.

In a statement to Postmedia, Alberta Health said 107 government employees received “special services” compensation in 2021 for additional work during the pandemic response.

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They said those payments were made according to criteria established by the public service commission, with similar compensation paid during previous emergencies like the southern Alberta floods in 2013 and the Fort McMurray fires in 2016.

“The total includes compensation for special services for the Medical Director of Health determined by a formula for managers based on additional hours worked,” said Steve Buick, press secretary to the Minister of Health, Jason Copping.

“Given the scale of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extraordinary amount of additional work was required by Alberta’s leading public health physician.”

Hinshaw’s additional pay covers hours worked beyond 45 hours during a week.

Pay disclosures from prior years show Hinshaw took home a base salary of $363,633.92 in 2020 and $332,164.64 in 2019. He received no additional cash benefits in either year.

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The level of compensation is not an issue given Hinshaw’s responsibilities last year, Mount Royal University political scientist Duane Bratt said.

“I didn’t think giving him a bonus based on a formula was necessarily bad. I can see that it was justified,” she said.

“You’re talking about the whole of 2021 and I’m guessing she was probably working 70 hours a week for every week of 2021 so I don’t have a problem with that.”

Bratt said there could be political ramifications from disclosure of Hinshaw’s compensation, however the issue is likely to come up when candidates compete to replace Prime Minister Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party.

He said there has already been some public uproar over compensation, with opponents making two arguments. One is that the pay scale is excessive, particularly in the context of the government’s proposed reductions in wages for some health care workers early in the pandemic. The other is an accusation that the money represents a “payment” from the UCP, a notion that Bratt rejects outright.

“I think those are unfair criticisms, particularly the idea that it was bought,” Bratt said.

“But this only throws a hand grenade into the United Conservatives leadership race… If (candidates, including Danielle Smith, who opposes COVID-19 restrictions) hear that Hinshaw received a bonus for advising these restrictions of health, it will be a big political problem after today. .”

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Twitter: @jasonfherring

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