Respected Alberta Health physician resigns after hiring drama

Dr. Esther Tailfeathers resigned as head of the Indigenous Wellness Core for Alberta Health Services after the hiring of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, which was later retracted. Silvia Naranjo reports.

By Silvia Naranjo

A highly-respected Indigenous Alberta physician has resigned from the Indigenous Wellness Core — the apparent result of a hiring decision involving former Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

A statement on Twitter from the Alberta Medical Association on Tuesday, announced the resignation of Dr. Esther Tailfeathers from her role as Senior Medical Director of the Provincial Indigenous Wellness Core.

The CBC reports her resignation happened after a job offer made to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, which lead to online outrage from those who opposed her stance on masking and vaccines, was revoked.

“It seems that this hiring decision went fairly high in the AHS bureaucracy, higher than I think we would typically expect from this kind of role and it isn’t clear what happened but it does appear that there was a politicization of this decision,” said University of Calgary Associate Professor Lorian Hardcastle.

Dr. Tailfeathers told the CBC, Dr. Hinshaw was hired by the Alberta Health Services Indigenous team in May and was supposed to start in June but the job offer was retracted. Adding, Hinshaw was selected from a list of applicants because of her experience and good relations with Indigenous leaders.

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Hardcastle believes this will affect the health system.

“The resignation of Dr. Tailfeathers is certainly unfortunate, she is an important figure with respect to Indigenous health in the province and holding that leadership role in the AHS she was potentially positioned to make a significant difference in the lives of Indigenous people and so her resignation is really problematic, particularly over questioning around her hiring decisions or her team’s hiring decisions,” she explained.

In a statement to CityNews, Alberta Health Services says “AHS doesn’t speak to personnel matters. AHS remains firmly committed to working with Indigenous communities and will continue to work to provide culturally safe healthcare for all First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples throughout the province.”

CityNews also reached out to Dr. Tailfeathers, but has yet to receive a response.

“Hopefully AHS is open about what happened because there is so a lot of information missing, between when the hire was approved by Dr. Tailfeathers and her team and then when the offer was rescinded, and so I think that AHS owes it to Albertans to explain who exactly revoked this offer and on what basis.” Hardcastle said.

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