The Yukon Party is raising red flags over the appointment of a former Liberal Party of Canada candidate as the territory’s new chief medical officer of health.
In a June 23 release, the official opposition is accusing the Liberal territorial government of a “trend of politicizing” the independent office.
The Yukon Party said the latest move damages credibility of the office given the new official’s former partisan ties, much like his predecessor, who they say used the office to “springboard into politics.”
Yukon Party Leader Currie Dixon said June 28 by phone he believes part of the job of the new chief medical officer of health is to “repair and restore” that public confidence.
“The decision to appoint someone who so recently ran for the Liberal Party of Canada does the opposite of that,” he said.
Dr. Sudit Ranade has been appointed as the Yukon’s new chief medical officer of health, starting July 4. According to the Liberal Party of Canada’s website, Ranade was acclaimed as the Liberal candidate for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex in the 2021 federal election. He was defeated by the Conservative Party of Canada candidate.
Dr. Brendan Hanley, a former Yukon chief medical officer of health, stepped down from his post after successfully running under the Liberal banner in the 2021 federal elections to become an elected member of parliament.
“We’ve seen what happens in the United States or in other countries where the independence of the chief medical officer of health is called into question and where people start questioning the advice and the input of the chief medical officer of health because they view them as having a partisan agenda,” Dixon said.
“We don’t want to see that imparted here.”
The Yukon government said via cabinet communications in a June 27 email statement the official opposition’s accusations do not hold up.
“This Yukon Party trend of criticizing the professional and personal integrity of public health officials is actually more closely aligned with ‘American-style politicization,’ and is the kind of attack that results in many capable people opting to stay out of public life,” reads the statement.
Dixon suggested the position should be appointed by an all-party committee similar to other independent, non-partisan positions like the youth advocate and the information and privacy commissioner.
A government representative stated an independent recruitment firm called Medfall supported the process in hiring the new top official.
“Medfall lead Robb Callaghan, deputy minister Michael Hale, Dr. Andre Corriveau, Diane Strand and assistant deputy minister Amy Riske were a part of the hiring committee and recommended this appointment,” reads the statement.
Ranade has a medical degree from the University of Ottawa. He completed his residency training in family medicine and public health through Queen’s University, where he also finished a master of public health degree and a master in business administration degree.
Ranade worked the last decade as the medical officer of health for southern Ontario’s Lambton Public Health up until his resignation to take the Job in the Yukon.
The News has attempted to request comment from Ranade. The Ontario health authority suggested contacting Ranade’s new employer to request comment. The Yukon government said Ranade will be available to reporters after he begins the role next month.
Dr. Catherine Elliott took over the role when Hanley left. The Yukon government did not clarify when or why Elliott left her position in response to the News’ recent request.
Meanwhile, Dr. Jesse Kancir was supporting the department of Health and Social Services with matters of public health on a remote locum basis for the month of May during the recruitment period.
Dr. Paul Hasselback is assisting the territory with in-person locum support until the end of June, according to the department.
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