Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Deena Hinshaw at one of her many news conferences during the pandemic (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Who made the decision to give Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s already controversial chief medical officer of health, that eye-popping $227,911 cash bonus for 2021?

It was not a good announcement for UCP leadership candidate Travis Toews (Photo: Alberta Newsroom/Flickr).

Whoever it was, when they primed that ticking time bomb, they did no favours for the former members of Jason Kenney’s cabinet who would soon be running to replace him as United Conservative Party leader and premier of Alberta!

Yesterday, when the CBC’s Janet French broke the story based on information she gleaned from the government’s salary disclosure database, can’t have been a happy Heritage Day for Travis Toews in particular.

The whopping 63-per-cent cash bonus on top of Dr. Hinshaw’s $363,634 salary last year is the highest ever paid to an Alberta public employee and appears to be wildly out of whack with the other 106 such benefits paid to public employees last year. 

When Mr. Kenney announced his delayed resignation after his underwhelming 51-per-cent endorsement in the party’s leadership review vote last May, Mr. Toews was seen as the front runner and choice of the UCP establishment to replace the premier. He was a trusted insider in Mr. Kenney’s cabinet. 

But it’s hard to see how he won’t now end up wearing a lot of this decision, which is bound to be unpopular. His campaign could well be derailed by the revelation.

UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Indeed, it’s doubtful there were very many Albertans who weren’t gobsmacked to learn yesterday that Dr. Hinshaw had been paid more than a quarter million dollars extra for working during the nightmare Mr. Kenney had promised would be the “Best Summer Ever.” 

Alas, the premier’s hurry to “open for summer” in 2021 contributed to the near collapse of the public health care system.

But everyone knows COVID-19 was an ongoing disaster that was faced by most health care workers, many of whom not long before had seen the government trying to roll back their pay and benefits. 

There was a lot of dark speculation in public social media forums yesterday about why so much money was lavished on Dr. Hinshaw – who was already among the highest-paid public health officials in Canada.

She has been harshly criticized by both the anti-vaccine crowd in the UCP base that’s been coalescing around anti-vaxx candidate Danielle Smith and Albertans worried by the government’s response to COVID-19 who do not share Ms. Smith’s apparent distrust of science.

UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Those who weren’t infuriated by vaccine mandates and the requirement to mask up were frightened and angered by the way Dr. Hinshaw seemed to ignore sound public health practice to do the government’s bidding whenever Mr. Kenney and his cabinet pushed to act as if COVID were over.

If there was anyone left who wasn’t fuming, they probably were when they heard overtime trotted out as an excuse for Dr. Hinshaw’s huge bonus.

Well, Dr. Hinshaw had a few supporters on social media yesterday, but their voices were definitely in the minority. 

Smith and candidate Brian Jean, both former Wildrose Party leaders neither of whom were members of Mr. Kenney’s cabinet, were quick to pile on. 

“‘We’re all in this together’ didn’t mean what we thought it did,” tweeted Ms. Smith yesterday. “Albertans are rightly stunned & outraged they gave Dr. Hinshaw @CMOH_Alberta a $228k Covid bonus.”

Former Alberta Health Services President and CEO Verna Yiu (Photo David J. Climenhaga).

“While Albertans were losing businesses, while our health system was collapsing under mismanagement, the people on the Sky Palace balcony signed off on an all-time record bonus,” tweeted Mr. Jean, who made a point of calculating the payout at $19,000 a month. 

It must be noted that the problem was not mismanagement at AHS, which was competently led through the pandemic by CEO Verna Yiu. 

But Dr. Yiu, it is significant to note, was fired by the UCP Government in part because she insisted all health care workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 – a clinical decision overruled for political reasons by Health Minister Jason Copping last December.

The difference between the way the two physicians were treated is striking.

Leela Aheer takes the bull by the horns – for real

First over the fence, Leela Aheer, in red shirt at right, rushes to confront the bull (Photo: Screenshot of video, Twitter/Sarah Biggs).

No one can say UCP leadership candidate Leela Aheer isn’t prepared take the bull by the horns – literally. 

The sometime cabinet rebel fired by Premier Kenney for daring to criticize him for his notorious Sky Palace patio party in June 2021, jumped the fence Saturday at the Strathmore Stampede and took on a raging bull that was trampling a young man who’d toppled into its path.

She didn’t really think about it, she told a reporter. “It’s a mom thing, I guess.” 

The video’s pretty wild. If this doesn’t increase her support come voting day, the UCP might as well just quit pretending to be the cowboy party! 

Join the Conversation


  1. Well first of all, these huge payments to Ms. Hinshaw clear up some of the mystery as to why she stuck around while the UCP continually frustrated science and played politics with COVID. It would have been a huge political blow if she quit or challenged them publicly, so they paid her well enough to keep her there and in line.

    Yes, this will also be an unwelcome bombshell for those candidates for the UCP leadership who likely would have known as this, such as Mr. Toews. There is no good explanation and denial will only make him look out of touch or not on top of his job. His candidacy was already tepid and faltering, as far out as it seems, one wonders if this was a mercy kiling.

    As for Ms Aheer, I am starting to like her even more. Clearly she was not afraid to stand up to Kenney, nor was she afraid to grab a bull by the horns, which is usually said as a metaphor, not a literal act. Well, after struggling to get noticed in this race, she’s got our attention now!

    Unfortunately, I still don’t think she will win the UCP leadership, she is far to moderate for the taste of most of the members. The Hinshaw debacle will probably benefit someone else, like Ms. Smith or maybe Ms. Schulz who may be an acceptable establishment replacement for Mr. Toews. If so, Ms Schulz may also need to convince UCP members she really was no where around when the Hinshaw pay deal was cooked up and discussed.

    I also wonder if Ms Yiu was offered a similar sweet financial deal to go along with all the UCP’s bizarre politically motivated COVID strategies and instead just said no and so grabbed the metaphorical bull by the horns.

  2. Dr. Deena Hinshaw used to have credibility. That was until the UCP took control of her. David Shepherd, an NDP MLA, once made a motion to have Dr. Deena Hinshaw be completely independent. The UCP didn’t agree with that, and rejected the idea completely. Had Dr. Deena Hinshaw been autonomous, and was able to make Covid-19 related decisions by herself, things would be different in Alberta. There was an event on the Sky Palace, in 2021, where the head honcho of the UCP, Tyler Shandro, and other UCP party brass were claiming to be working, while they were really having some type of a party. At that time, the UCP forbade Albertans from having social gatherings, but they were doing this themselves. Dr. Deena Hinshaw was manipulated by the UCP, so much so, that she wouldn’t even condemn this clear breach of Covid-19 pandemic rules, that the UCP were involved with. Dr. Verna Yiu, refused to go along with what the UCP were doing, and she got fired. Numbers of Covid-19 in Alberta are rising again. The UCP’s Covid-19 pandemic measures still aren’t successful. If Alberta has been in top place with Covid-19 case numbers in Canada, more often than not, this tells you that the UCP isn’t learning very well, in relation to managing this pandemic. The UCP seems to run a tight dictatorship. Anyone that is critical of them, gets punished. Others, simply refuse to speak out, in fear of getting reprimanded. Leela Aheer did something commendable here, at this rodeo. That still doesn’t take away her role in the inhumane cuts she gave AISH clients. People who receive AISH, still have to go for a long period of time on a very meagre amount of money, with no increases that keep up with the high costs of living, and the staggering rate of inflation in Alberta. $1688 isn’t a liveable amount of money. Hopefully, Albertans come to their senses and remove the UCP from power, in 2023.

  3. I’m not sure what all this hand-wringing about cabinet ministers in the leadership race having to bear the bad decisions of the government. I mean at this point it’s pretty obvious that the only one who’s bothering to champion his own genius and the perfection of his own abilities is Jason Kenney. So, why not just come right out and say what everyone is thinking?

    If Albertans are the stupidest people alive, Jason Kenney is clearly the stupidest of them all. In that sense, he’s already a born Albertan — though he was never born there, only begun living there when he wanted an easy start to his political career, and had every intention of running back to Ottawa at the first chance he got. In light of all this, the former ministers and wannabe UCP leaders should point their fingers at Kenney and blame that moron for everything. At the very least there will be appreciated nodding from the long-suffering Albertan idiots.

    Hinshaw’s lavish bonus pay-out is best described in simple terms as weird, highly suspicious, and surely the Devil’s work. Though there are numbers who are excusing Hinshaw’s haul as just “overtime”, followed by claims that she has worked harder than anyone outside of Vulcan’s Forge, they have been pretty much been smashed by scathing rebuttals. Oh, and they’re mental cases, too. What else can be said of Hinshaw’s guilded reward, apart then that it was paid for being Kenney and the UCP’s partisan toadie? Hinshaw’s approval of Kenney’s “Greatest Summer Ever” stunt was full on endorsement of the crassest politicking and put her in league with Kenney’s gang of murder clowns.

    That is Hinshaw’s legacy, pure and simple. She cannot hope to continue in office now, nor even remain in Alberta. Like Kenney, I predict her exit from the scene will be soon and total — gone and gone for good.

  4. As for Leela Aheer’s rather spectacular and stunning moment, going hand-to-hand, fist-cuffs with a raging bull, it was a pretty cool sight.

    I’ve always wondered what was Aheer’s interest in the course of her political career? I mean when she was in the Wildrose, she always seemed to be one of the more moderate ones in the group, which means she’s going to stand out like a sore thumb in that demented bunch. And joining in with the UCP stuck me more as a career move that anything else. But when she publicly blew her top at Kenney, pretty much calling him a liar and a murder clown in front of everyone, that seemed pretty much true to her form.

    It’s hard to say what kind of traction, if any, Aheer’s battle with the bull will gain in the leadership race. But I get a sense that getting into a ring with her could be a regretful experience, physically speaking.

  5. The bonus is, what, the annual salary of three nurses or one bull wrassler depending on your voting preferences. A pox upon their houses.

  6. Hinshaw’s payment might be viewed as a parachute.
    Her further employment anywhere is, to my mind, somewhat doubtful.

    1. If it is, she got hosed – $227K for what would have been a least a decade of future earnings isn’t much.

  7. Kenney taxpayer funded hush money so Hinshaw won’t spill the UCP beans regarding their political interference in the COVID response. It seems to me the way Hinshaw obediently toed the UCP politcal line re: COVID would be a violation of a doctor’s oath to “do no harm”. Shame on Hinshaw. She appears to be just another bad-faith alt-right politician. I’m sure the pile of our money she received makes her feel better.

    1. Well, to be fair, her advice to the government would be protected under cabinet confidentiality rules, so it’s not much of a payoff.

    2. I actually tried to file a complaint against her with the organization that accredits doctors on the grounds that she violated her Hippocratic Oath by harming Albertans during COVID, and was told that Canadian doctors don’t swear that oath. That said, super bad look for whoever regulates doctors if there end up being no consequences to “Dr.” Hinshaw – if the COVID crisis could be compared to WW2, she would IMO be playing the role of “Dr. Quisling.”

  8. My first thought after reading the headline: That’s obscene! Second: Pays well to be a Jason Kenney sock puppet.

  9. Apparently, in a society where everyone has a price and where everyone is merely another commodity to be bought or sold, money and payoffs buys both silence and loyalty to the select coterie of public officials that are never responsible or accountable to anyone in the dominance hierarchy, except their boss/employer/paymaster.

  10. Well, now we know the cost for Hinshaw’s compliance. She is not fit to administer band-aids to Barbie dolls and should return all the money and get the hell out of my province with her head bowed in shame. The drooling idiots who approved this hush-payment should be treated as the traitors they truly are and removed from government as soon as possible.

    1. Surely there ought to be some kind of legal consequences for being effectively bribed to provide cover for policies that killed a bunch of people? Oh wait, jail is for the poor and non-white. Silly me…

  11. So that’s two strikes against UCP leadership candidate Travis Toews in one weekend: first, the outrageous bonus paid to Deena Hinshaw, approved while he was in cabinet; second, his horseback riding pales in comparison to Leela Aheer wrestling a bull. Congratulations to her for her courage in the face of real danger and for her quick thinking.

    What a leadership race this is turning out to be!

    1. Brett, it seems to me her laughter will be short-lived. By knuckling under to Kenney & the Knuckleheads, she’s pretty much destroyed her professional credibility. She might land an equivalent job in Saskatchewan; unlikely she’d get an offer from Ontario. Anywhere else? I doubt it.

      But–worse news for us–it might not matter. By proving she’s a “team player” (i.e. susceptible to bullying) she’s probably got a guaranteed job in UCP Oilberduh until she retires. “Just do as you’re told, Deena. Leave the rest to us.”

      Not good, friends. We need to hear from Rachel Notley, starting now, on two critical issues. The bad news: Jason Kenney has deliberately hurt ordinary people by fighting doctors; fighting nurses; fighting teachers; and now he’s fighting lawyers. Do you really think Danielle Smith will do any better? The good news: Rachel Notley and the NDP have a plan to make things better for you. We’ll fix what the UCP broke by: (note to Rachel: list starts here. Please, please, fill in the blanks.)

  12. Outrageous? Well, yeah but…

    It was clear to me within a few months after the COVID pandemic broke out, in 2020, that she was compromised. After that, I stopped listening to anything she had to say.

    My question is this: Now that she’s got her truckload of money, will she finally quit and go home?

    I think Albertans deserve a CMO who actually cares about public health. On the other hand, maybe they don’t. In the end it’s all karma anyways.

    1. By doctor standards, a quarter mil is chump change. Beyond puzzling for her to accept such a piddling bribe.

  13. I don’t see any way to look at this except “payoff”. Or post-hoc bribe, if you prefer.

  14. I strongly suspect Dr. Hinshaw will rue the day she accepted what appears to be a bribe. In politics and in health care, the appearance of impropriety matters. Astonished she would be foolish enough to accept this. A quarter mil is a lot of money for me, but for a lot of doctors that’s their take home after taxes for one year. I think she’s going to strongly wish she had come by her wealth by more conventional means.

    Haha on the other hand, it’s the strongest evidence yet that she is a fool and not a villain. I would suspect a proper villain to have been more competent.

  15. There must be a large stash of money set aside for all the constructive dismissal lawsuits that will come out of this:

    Are the UCP dogs so confident of a win in the next election that they won’t let go of any bone? Does this mean that Jason Kenney’s insistence on forcing his agenda is tacitly paving the way for Danielle Smith as leader/premier? Current UCP MLAs will have to answer for this. She is not one. Diabolical machinations galore?!

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