Ontario Liberals are calling on Health Minister Christine Elliott to veto the appointment of a new local acting medical officer of health over social media posts indicating he is against closures and other security measures related to COVID-19.
The call was made in a press release issued Friday afternoon by Liberal health critic John Fraser. In the statement, Fraser calls for an immediate veto of Dr Matt Strauss’ appointment to Haldimand-Norfolk, arguing he has “publicly opposed life-saving public health measures.”
“We cannot have a medical officer of health who publicly opposes life-saving public health measures as we head into the fourth wave of COVID-19,” he wrote.
“If Minister Elliott approves this appointment or allows Dr. Strauss to serve as interim medical officer of health during Wave Four, it will mean that Doug Ford’s government is openly bowing to the anti-science fringe.
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit announced Strauss’s appointment as Acting Medical Officer of Health early in the day, saying his experience and interest in the region’s farming community was what set him apart from other candidates.
Strauss is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Queen’s University and previously served as a Clinical Assistant Professor at McMaster University.
The appointment was unanimously confirmed, the public health unit said. Strauss is expected to begin his new role on September 14.
Numerous recent tweets from Strauss over the past few months have indicated that he is opposed to blocks. It appears to repeatedly claim that they are unethical and not effective in preventing COVID-19-related deaths.
On August 29, as Ontario recorded 750 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths, he tweeted, “live Free or Die.”
In other social media posts, Strauss has indicated he would rather live in Florida, a state that has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths after relaxing public health measures.
A spokesperson for Elliott’s office said in a statement Friday evening that the health minister was responsible for approving the appointment of full-time medical officers of health, but had no say in the appointment of an interim medical officer of health.
However, the spokesperson also said Elliott would not endorse a health worker who does not support public health measures.
“While the ministry will review any request received from the health unit, under no circumstances will we approve the appointment of a local medical officer of health who does not support public health measures that have saved countless lives and protected our ability. hospital throughout the pandemic, ”said Alexandra Hilkene in the press release.
Hilkene said the Department of Health had not received a request from the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Service to approve Strauss as a full-time appointment.
CTV News Toronto contacted Strauss and the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit but did not receive an immediate response.