COVID-19: Ornge head Homer Tien tapped to replace Hillier to lead Ontario vaccine drive

People arrive for their vaccine appointment time at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

TORONTO — Ontario’s air ambulance service says its current president has now been tasked with leading Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Ornge says Dr. Homer Tien is now the operational lead of the province’s COVID-19 distribution taskforce, formerly under the leadership of retired general Rick Hillier.

The province announced Hillier’s departure from the role last month, explaining he declined a request to stay on past the March 31 expiry date of his contract to kickstart the mass immunization drive.

A spokesman for the province’s Solicitor General confirmed Tien’s appointment as the province prepares to open the next phase of its immunization effort.

Hillier’s tenure was marked by criticism about distribution pace and communication, though he also oversaw the launches of the provincial vaccine booking portal as well as pilot projects allowing select pharmacists and primary-care providers to begin administering the coveted shots.

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Ornge says Tien, who was already part of the provincial taskforce and helped oversee vaccine delivery to several remote communities, will stay on as the ambulance service’s president as he takes on his new role.

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