Member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine task force resigns after out-of-country vacation

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Hospital system CEO resigns from Ontario COVID-19 advisory table after trip
WATCH ABOVE: A hospital system CEO resigned from his position on the province’s COVID-19 science advisory board Tuesday night after it was revealed he travelled to the Dominican Republic over the holidays. Shallima Maharaj has reaction to his decision to travel internationally. – Jan 6, 2021

A member of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution task force has become the latest person to resign after travelling outside of Canada on a vacation.

“Premier Ford accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of (the task force) after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December,” a statement issued by Ford’s office Tuesday evening.

News of the trip was first reported by The Globe and Mail Monday afternoon.

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The story, published on Tuesday, said the newspaper received information Hasenfratz, CEO of the manufacturing company Linamar, vacationed in Barbados. But in a statement about her resignation released Tuesday evening, Hasenfratz did not confirm her travel destination.

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“While it is true that I travelled outside the country over the holidays, I followed all pandemic protocols of both countries and remain in quarantine today as public health guidelines require,” she wrote.

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“I regret my decision to travel, and I apologize to the premier, General (Rick) Hillier and members of the task force for any impact this may have had on their work.”

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Hasenfratz said while she would like to continue providing advice on the distribution of vaccines, she didn’t want her “continued participation to cause distraction from the excellent work the task force is undertaking at this critical time.”

Hasenfratz currently serves as the chancellor of Western University in London, Ont. In light of her trip to Barbados, a petition has been launched that seeks to have her removed from her position at Western. It has garnered more than 300 signatures as of Wednesday.

The resignation comes after other recent high-profile departures that came after news of international vacations surfaced, including that of Finance Minister Rod Phillips.

Officials have pleaded with residents for months to avoid non-essential travel in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, international travel hasn’t been banned by the federal government.

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Linamar received a $2.5-million contract from the Ontario government in September to manufacture 10,000 ventilators in response to the pandemic.

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