Sask. ICU doctor leaving province partly due to Premier Moe's 'failed leadership' during pandemic

·2 min read
Dr. Hassan Masri announced he's leaving Saskatchewan to take a leadership role in Ontario. On social media, Masri cited the province's handling of the pandemic and rejection of funding for a supervised consumption site as factors in his decision. (Dayne Patterson/CBC - image credit)
Dr. Hassan Masri announced he's leaving Saskatchewan to take a leadership role in Ontario. On social media, Masri cited the province's handling of the pandemic and rejection of funding for a supervised consumption site as factors in his decision. (Dayne Patterson/CBC - image credit)

A Saskatoon ICU doctor who has been a vocal critic of the province's pandemic response has announced he's leaving Saskatchewan to take a leadership role in Ontario.

"This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made and I certainly did lose sleep over it," Dr. Hassan Masri wrote on Twitter Friday.

Masri has worked in Saskatoon for the last eight years, specializing in intensive care. His public profile grew after he started using social media to share the strain hospitals were facing during the pandemic.

He also offered advice on how to stay safe and busted COVID-19 myths.

In his Facebook comments, Masri said half of his decision to leave "was indirectly forced upon me by a failed leader like Scott Moe."

Masri said Moe "never had a chance to listen to my private and public messages and pleas despite an endless attempts to speak him directly and privately. His failed leadership and behaviour during this pandemic was so shameful."

In an unattributed prepared statement, the government wrote, "we thank Dr. Masri for his professional contributions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, most notably in his important individual role to encourage vaccination in the province's Stick it To COVID campaign.

We continue to value the support of all physicians in ensuring residents have the best information about the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines. We wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Masri said the government's decision to once again deny funding for Prairie Harm Reduction, the province's only supervised consumption site, also played a role in his choice to move on.

"Instead of being in a system that reduces harm and look[s] out for people I now can watch people overdose and die from the window of my hospital's ICU," Masri wrote.

Kendall Latimer/CBC
Kendall Latimer/CBC

A record number of Saskatchewan people died from drug toxicity in 2021. There were 464 people confirmed or suspected to have died last year, according to the Saskatchewan Coroners Service.

Preliminary numbers show 137 more are suspected to have died from Jan. 1 to May 3 of this year.

Masri is not the only Saskatchewan doctor who announced he's leaving the province.

Dr. Kevin Wasko, an emergency room doctor and physician executive for Integrated Rural Health with the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced in February he was leaving his senior position to work as an emergency room doctor in a Toronto-area hospital.

Saskhealthauthority.ca
Saskhealthauthority.ca

Wasko voiced frustrations for certain decisions the government made in relation to public health recommendations, adding there was a "disheartening" disconnect between the province and the health authority.

The government said it recognizes the pandemic "triggered a culture-wide review of work-life balance" for people including health-care workers, and that recruitment and retention remains a priority.

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