'I think it's appropriate that work gets recognized': Mackie addresses $100K in overtime pay
LONDON, ONT. -- Clocking long hours during the first months of the pandemic earned London and Middlesex County’s medical officer of health a six-figure overtime payment.
“Dr. Chris Mackie’s overtime for COVID response for the last year was about 611 hours, which translates to just over $100,000,” explains Chair of the Board of Health Maureen Cassidy to CTV News.
According to public salary disclosure records, in 2019 Dr. Mackie’s salary was $301,655. His salary climbed almost 38 percent to $414,926 in 2020.
Cassidy says most of that increase was one-time pandemic-related overtime covered by the province.
“The province committed to pay for overtime costs for the frontline healthcare workers when they are doing the work of the COVID response,” she adds.
Thursday morning Mackie addressed the pay during an interview on 1290 CJBK's The Morning Show with Ken and Loreena.
In the interview Mackie is asked why he accepted the pay and he noted that compensation is set at the provincial level between the Ontario Medical Association and the government.
"Normally public health management does not get compensated for overtime ... its unusual that funds are available to compensate for that, so this was a year when many in management went well and above and beyond; lots of people spent much of the year close to burnout. I think it's appropriate that work gets recognized," said Mackie.
However not everyone sees it that way.
“This is another slap in the face of those frontline healthcare workers,” asserts Peter Bergmanis of the Ontario Health Coalition.
Bergmanis believes senior leadership roles shouldn’t be receiving such large overtime payments from funds intended for healthcare workers who spend everyday on the frontlines of pandemic response.
“If there’s money to be had, it should be spread more equitably throughout the people who actually do the frontline care.”
Cassidy says Dr. Mackie’s overtime qualified for provincial reimbursement.
“He (Dr. Mackie has been out there on the front lines, running the efforts of the Middlesex-London Health Unit, organizing the team, getting everything in place for the vaccine rollout,” she explains.
Bergmanis rejects that explanation.
“That’s astounding, there are so many people (in healthcare) who have been doing overtime. They’ll never see that kind of money.”
The Ontario Ministry of Health has yet to respond to questions about criteria to receive pandemic-related overtime in 2020.