The shakeup within the Public Health hierarchy is sounding the alarm bells for David Coon, leader of the New Brunswick Green Party.
In an email exchange shared on social media, Coon noted that Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province’s medical director of health, had been kicked out of her “more independent role” reporting directly to the minister to someone under a deputy deputy minister.
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“I am very concerned that the position of medical director of health appears to have been shifted from outside the bureaucracy, directly interacting and reporting to the minister, to essentially be on the same level as an assistant deputy minister,” Coon said. speaking to reporters on Friday.
Coon said the change appeared to have been made without warning or justification.
“It opens up the position much more by being subject to political considerations because, as we know, vice ministers are partly there to make sure their minister looks good and doesn’t get into trouble. And so, to the extent that that has an impact on the work of the medical director of health, that is worrying, ”he said.
He said he is concerned that the CMOH is subject to political influence when it comes to making public health recommendations.
Coon added that he does not know when or why the change was made, and said he has not been able to ask the government directly.
One example, he said, was when the deputy chief medical officer for health, Dr. Cristin Mueke, made a strong recommendation to return to wearing masks indoors and in public spaces amid the spread of the delta variant through communities in Zone 1. , but days later, Russell suppressed that message, saying it was a personal choice.
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“That is potentially an example because it is the same language that the prime minister had been using,” he said.
He said the position now feels trapped and much more subject to political influence.
The Public Health website indicates that the executive management committee is above the medical director of health, which includes the deputy minister, the deputy deputy minister responsible for corporate services and Francophone affairs, the deputy deputy minister for health services and programs, and the assistant. vice minister of public health.
When you expand that section of the org chart below, you are the communications manager.
The next branch is the office of the medical director of health. That title is included in the executive management committee, but only after the deputy deputy minister, the deputy deputy minister, and the deputy deputy minister of public health.
Global News contacted the Health Department twice to discuss the change, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.
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