Interior Health clarifies employee travel policy

Amid reports that one of its managers travelled to another country over the Christmas holidays, Interior Health says it has reiterated to all staff on a “regular basis” to follow public health guidelines, including avoiding non-essential travel.

“Interior Health expects everyone, staff included, to be following the strict public health guidance that protects ourselves and loved ones from COVID-19,” an emailed statement to KTW said.

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Kamloops This Week reached out to Interior Health amid media reports that a manager travelled internationally to warmer climes over the Christmas break. It comes as politicos across the country have been criticized for travelling, despite a federal advisory in place asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside of the country until further notice to prevent spread of COVID-19.

News of those in positions of power who travelled despite the advisory has resulted in resignations and demotions. The mayor of Castlegar, Bruno Tassone, was the latest to step down, following backlash over a trip over the holidays from the West Kootenays town to a family cabin about 200 kilometres away, at the Mount Baldy ski resort in the South Okanagan.

KTW’s request to speak to Interior Health board chair Doug Cochrane about the local allegations was denied by the health authority, which instead provided a statement and requested questions by email.

“We reached out to the board chair and, unfortunately, he is unavailable for an interview,” the statement from Interior Health said. KTW first contacted the health authority for the interview on Jan. 8.

Asked if it is aware of any board members or other Interior Health employees travelling outside of the country for non-essential reasons, the health authority said it would “investigate any allegations, but the findings would remain confidential.”

Asked if Interior Health has issued any memos or directives to staff regarding travel and, if so, what were they, the organization repeated that it has reiterated the travel advice to all staff on a regular basis. It remains unclear how that communication occurred.

When asked, Interior Health said the position of the manager in question does not carry with it any directives to other staff regarding travel.

As for whether the board chair is concerned with any Interior Health employees deciding to travel for pleasure contrary to their own superiors asking them not to, the health authority did not say.

— with a file from the Vancouver Sun

© Kamloops This Week



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