LONDON, ONT. -- The health board is defending the six-figure pandemic-related overtime paid by the province to the Medical Officer of Health.

“This is recognition from the province, recognition in a monetary form,” said Maureen Cassidy, Chair of the Middlesex-London Board of Health. “So Dr. Mackie has the board’s support.”

Cassidy participated in the regularly scheduled COVID-19 media briefing to answer questions about the $100,000 of pandemic-related overtime earned by Dr. Mackie in 2020.

It boosted his salary salary to $414,926.68 last year.

“The province created a program specifically to compensate frontline healthcare workers for the work they are doing directly related to the pandemic,” added Cassidy.

Cassidy tells CTV News that Mackie’s frontline overtime work on included:

• responding overnight to the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Middlesex-London

• sourcing PPE’s during the early days of the pandemic

• addressing a shortage of swabs

• establishing the assessment centres and the field hospital

In Lambton County, however, the medical officer of health received no overtime pay.

County Council acts as the Board of Health, so Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health is a county employee that is not entitled to overtime pay.

Just like other county employees, he is only entitled to time off in lieu of overtime.

“The ‘in lieu’ (time off) will not be nearly as expensive as paying overtime,” explains Warden Kevin Marriott.

According to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, the one-time overtime pay was only made available by the province in 2020.

The province paid the pandemic overtime of 47 MLHU employees, an amount totalling $730,000.

Dr. Mackie’s overtime accounts for almost 14 per cent of that amount.

He deferred questions about his salary to Cassidy during Thursday’s media briefing, but earlier in the day spoke on Newstalk 1290 CJBK.

“A lot of people spent much of the year close to burnout. I think it’s appropriate that that work gets recognized. And I’m very grateful to the board of health and government that they did that.”