Question Period: Dr. Cleary and Glyphosate – December 4, 2015
The following is the preliminary Hansard transcript of the Question Period on December 2, 2015 recorded in the language it was originally spoken.
Mr. Coon: This week, it has become public knowledge that the province’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, New Brunswick’s chief physician, everybody’s doctor, Dr. Cleary, has been placed on leave without explanation. Dr. Cleary is a constituent of mine, and she has no idea what she is supposed to have done wrong or why she was forced to take this leave. Will the Minister of Health clear the air today and explain to the people of New Brunswick why Dr. Cleary has been asked to take this leave of absence?
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: I know that the member has not been in this House for a very long time, but he should know that we cannot talk about personnel issues on the floor of the Legislature. We have said very clearly that this is a personnel matter. It is an HR matter, and it is not something that we are able to talk about. Yesterday, the civil service—in quite an unprecedented move, actually—came out and stated that very clearly. The Deputy Minister of Health explained the situation. It has nothing to do with the office per se, and it is a personnel matter that we cannot discuss on the floor of the Legislature.
M. Coon : La Dre Cleary est une femme d’une très grande intégrité, et les gens du Nouveau-Brunswick sont fiers qu’elle soit chargée de leur santé publique. Nous savons que certaines études réalisées par la Dre Cleary et son équipe n’ont pas été favorables à l’ancien gouvernement. My question for the Minister of Health is this: Does this have anything to do with the fact that the fracking commission is soon to release its report and it does not want to have Dr. Cleary present when that report is released, given her past report and recommendations on shale gas?
L’hon. M. Boudreau : Pour être certain que tout le monde a bien compris le message, je vais simplement lire la déclaration qui a été publiée hier par la fonction publique : « Malgré le caractère confidentiel du processus de ressources humaines concernant la Dre Cleary et d’autres personnes, lequel a été enclenché et supervisé par des fonctionnaires professionnels, dans le cadre des responsabilités qui leur incombent en vertu de la Loi sur la fonction publique, la Dre Cleary a choisi d’informer les médias qu’elle avait été mise en congé. » « Nous avons l’obligation de protéger la vie privée et les renseignements personnels de toutes les parties concernées. Ce ne sont pas des raisons de nature politique qui ont motivé le processus de ressources humaines. Les travaux médicaux et scientifiques du Bureau du médecin-hygiéniste en chef n’ont pas été remis en question non plus. D’ailleurs, ces travaux se poursuivent sous la direction du médecin-hygiéniste en chef par intérim. » Il s’agit de la Dre Jennifer Russell. Merci.
Mr. Coon: Dr. Cleary has the faith of the people of this province and is well respected by her colleagues in the medical community. She was recently awarded a prestigious award in Fredericton, and some of her colleagues were present to talk about the reasons she was so deserving in terms of receiving this award. She is everyone’s doctor. The people of this province deserve to know when she will be allowed to return to her job to continue to advocate on behalf of their health. My final question for the minister is this: How much longer does he expect Dr. Cleary to be out of her office?
Hon. Mr. Boudreau: Again, for clarity, I will read the statement that was put out by the civil service yesterday: “Despite the confidentiality of a human resources process which involves Dr. Cleary and others and which has been initiated and is being overseen by professional civil servants as part of their responsibilities under the Civil Service Act, Dr. Cleary has chosen to advise the media that she has been placed on leave,” . . . “We have an obligation to protect the privacy and personal information of all parties involved. The human resources process that has been initiated is not politically motivated nor have questions been raised about the medical and scientific work being undertaken by the office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which work continues under the acting Chief Medical Officer of Health—Dr. Jennifer Russell. Again, this is a personnel issue, and it is not appropriate to be talking about it on the floor of the Legislature. The civil service is dealing with this situation, and it will be dealt with accordingly.