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Dr. Hinshaw receives massive bonus for extra COVID-19 pandemic work

Click to play video: 'Dr. Hinshaw sees massive bonus for COVID-19 pandemic workload'
Dr. Hinshaw sees massive bonus for COVID-19 pandemic workload
WATCH: Dr. Hinshaw has a salary of more than $360,000, but last year she brought home additional cash benefits totaling nearly $230,000, Alberta’s sunshine list shows . Tom Vernon has reaction – Aug 1, 2022

For more than two years, Dr. Deena Hinshaw has been the face of Alberta’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant a lot of work and long days. And that has led to a significant bump in pay.

As Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hinshaw has a salary of more than $360,000, but last year she brought home much more than that.

Alberta’s sunshine list shows additional cash benefits totaling nearly $230,000. All added up, that is more than $590,000 in compensation.

The sunshine list shows she did not receive this type of payment in 2020 – the first year of the pandemic.

In a statement, government spokesperson Steve Buick said: “Given the scale of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extraordinary amount of additional work was required from Alberta’s top public health doctor,” and that the bonus was “determined using a formula for managers based on additional hours worked.”

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In total, 107 government employees were given additional compensation, which came to a total of $2.4 million.

Click to play video: 'Doctor shortage leaves thousands of Albertans without a family physician'
Doctor shortage leaves thousands of Albertans without a family physician

This has caught the attention of at least two UCP leadership candidates.

“’We’re all in this together’ didn’t mean what we thought it did,’ Danielle Smith wrote to her Twitter followers, adding Albertans are “stunned and outraged.”

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“$19,000 a month as the bonus?” added MLA Brian Jean. “This is unsettling, to say the least.”

“The health-care system is in trouble,” said Lori Williams, a political science professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary. “The wisdom of the expenditures or cuts that have been made are being called into question.”

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Williams said it won’t just be UCP leadership hopefuls asking these questions, but other frontline health-care workers as well.

“Doctors are still – more than two years later – without a contract with the Alberta government. Nurses and frontline healthcare workers, including respiratory therapists, have been repeatedly asked to take cuts,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Concerns being raised about number of nurses needed in Alberta'
Concerns being raised about number of nurses needed in Alberta

The nurses’ union said Tuesday it’s the juxtaposition of the massive bonuses while nurses were being asked to take a pay cut that was the real rub.

“I don’t think there’s any question that Dr. Hinshaw was working an incredible amount of hours,” said David Harrigan, director of labour relations for United Nurses of Alberta. “Had her contract been up for renewal or had her contract even stated that she was eligible to receive bonuses, that would be one thing.

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“In 2021, the same time that registered nurses were looking at having to take job action because the employer, the government, was saying: ‘We have to roll back wages,’ they were giving the senior medical officer of health an increase of 60 per cent.”

“Meanwhile, Minister (Travis) Toews was all over the province saying: ‘We have to rein in spending, we have to get public sector spending under control, we have to ensure our public sectors are not outliers and are not paid higher than other provinces.’

“It seems to us that it’s just an indication of: we will treat front-line workers one way and we’ll treat senior people in a completely different way and that’s troubling.”

Harrigan believes it’s that treatment that has caused a nursing shortage in Alberta. Registered nurses are leaving the health system, he says.

“Nurses were so burned out there’s now a giant shortage. More than half the hospitals in this province are now using agency nurses — travel nurses — instead of employees and that’s because they feel they’ve been mistreated by the government.

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“I don’t think any one of our members is upset that Dr. Hinshaw got a bonus because we understand the workload that she was under. What we’re upset about is at the time that she got a giant bonus, the government was saying the exact opposite to us,” Harrigan said.

“There’s huge shortages, there’s service cutbacks all over the province, there’s agency nurses in half the facilities. It just shows the level of entitlement of the people at the top and it doesn’t have good effects.”

Click to play video: '‘It’s devastating’: Veteran Alberta nurse shares emotional toll 4th wave of COVID-19 is having on front-line workers'
‘It’s devastating’: Veteran Alberta nurse shares emotional toll 4th wave of COVID-19 is having on front-line workers

 

 

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