During the past two years, government health officials and healthcare workers alike have stepped up to the plate to help the population deal with everything the COVID-19 pandemic threw at them. In many cases, however, while one group was financially rewarded for their extra work, the other had their wages reduced.
This scenario played out in Alberta, where according to publicly available records, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinshaw raked in nearly $250,000 in extra monetary benefits on top of her triple-digit salary in 2021.
According to the government's salary and severance disclosure table, Alberta's top doc received $227,911.35 in "cash benefits" above and beyond her salary of $278,926.99. Hinshaw was also given $5,238.85 in "non cash benefits."
Cash benefits are described as "overtime, vacation payout, northern allowance, vehicle allowance and lump sum payments," while non cash benefits include "pension, medical and dental coverage, group life insurance and disability plans."
A breakdown of Hinshaw's earnings is not publicly available.
In 2021, while a number of Alberta government employees were earning massive bonuses, the province's healthcare workers were threatened with wage cuts.
As Global News reports, United Nurses of Alberta called the government out for their decision to reward officials while appearing to snub those working hard in the province's hospitals.
"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," the union's director of labour relations, David Harrigan, argued, adding that he has no doubt Dr. Hinshaw was also "working an incredible amount of hours."
"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," Harrigan added, calling the government's actions "troubling."
During the pandemic, nurses across the province were put under an immense amount of stress, and for many, the threat of a pay cut was proof that the government did not have their interests in mind.
Harrigan explained that nurses' issue is not with Harrigan, whose work they largely admire, rather it is with the government who told healthcare workers one thing, and officials another when it came to spending cuts.
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