The number of senior officials falling on their sword for either taking or condoning public service executive travel daring COVID is spreading faster than COVID itself. The latest casualty is the Chair of London Health Sciences Centre’s board, Amy Walby, who resigned a day after the hospitals former CEO Paul Woods launched a $2.5 Million lawsuit for his dismissal for taking trips during COVID. Woods claims Walby approved the five trips he took last year. His lawyer says Wood’s dismissal defamed his client and was done in bad faith. A statement from the hospital board says Walby’s resignation is “not an admission of wrongdoing.”
The London resignation comes days after Rob Burton, Mayor of Oakville and ex-chair of the Halton Police Board turned in his resignation over his approval of a trip to Florida by Halton Police Chief Steve Tanner. Tanner, in turn, awaits his fate as the Halton Police Services Board readies to meet behind closed doors with legal council Friday to discuss Tanner’s fate. The Police Services board will deal with the matter in open session at the end of the month.
In Hamilton the CEO of St Joseph’s Health System, Tom Stewart lost his posts as head of St. Joe’s as well as the presidency of Niagara Health after he admitted taking a trip to a home he owned in the Dominican Republic.
The cascade of resignations got started when Former Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips was found to have travelled to the luxury Caribbean resort, St. Barts, His lapse was heightened by what appeared to be a concerted social media campaign to create the impression he was still in Canada while actually in St. Barts, culminating with a Christmas fireside video showing Phillips in a sweater with a gingerbread house a holiday treats at his side.
In Alberta it was almost a case of whack-a-mole for Premier Jason Kenney, as no less than seven senior staffers and MLAs went south over the holidays, including Kenney’s own chief of staff.
The news of the trips came in a week when new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths was hitting all-time highs.