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The Yukon’s chief medical officer has been elected to federal office. Now what?

Current CMOH Brendan Hanley is leaving the position after a successful run to become Yukon’s member of parliament
Current CMOH Brendan Hanley, on leave, enters the MacBride Museum to applause in downtown Whitehorse on Sept. 20, after poll returns indicate he will be the next member of parliament for the Yukon. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

The Yukon will be looking for a new chief medical officer of health after former top doc Brendan Hanley was elected as MP for the territory on Sept. 20.

Hanley announced he was taking an unpaid leave of absence in August as he ran for elected office. He told reporters he would return to the position if he was unsuccessful.

As votes began indicating a win for the Liberal candidate, Hanley said he was “leaving a really strong team behind.”

“I think this is showing that anyone, whether in the private sector or in the public sector, should be able to participate in democracy,” Hanley said on his decision to take a leave of absence.

“I really have to talk with the premier and the deputy minister in the next few days,” he told reporters after being asked when he plans to resign.

Officially the second-in-command in the office, Dr. Catherine Elliott is currently filling the role of acting chief medical officer of health.

Government communications advisor Renée Francoeur said in an email that Hanley’s resignation is expected to come later this week.

“We also anticipate the formal process for appointing a chief medical officer of health to begin soon,” she said.

The expertise of the Yukon’s top medical doctors is not inexpensive. The chief medical officer of health and the deputy officer are not Yukon government employees, but hired as independent contractors.

Hanley’s original contract for $448,082 extended from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021, with an extension for $279,433 that ends on Sept. 30.

Catherine Elliot’s most recent contract, which started on Oct. 1, 2020 and ends on Sept. 30 of this year, lists $574,629 as the amount paid for services. In April 2020 a second contract, for $291,814, was posted and also expires at the end of this month.

The Yukon’s contracts page doesn’t provide a breakdown of how much of those funds go directly to salary versus other contractor costs.

In a statement released Sept. 21, following the election results, Premier Sandy Silver congratulated Hanley on his win.

“I also want to congratulate Dr. Brendan Hanley for his successful bid to represent Yukoners in Ottawa. I am confident that Dr. Hanley’s strong commitments to reconciliation, health care expertise and his strong ability to communicate with compassion will benefit all Yukoners and Canadians,” he wrote.

Contact Haley Ritchie at