Dr. Chris Mackie resigns from Middlesex-London Health Unit

According to a brief news release from the Middlesex London Health Unit Monday, Dr. Chris Mackie has resigned as medical officer of health.

The release states that the resignation is effective as of last Friday so he can “pursue other opportunities.”

“We are going to wish Dr. Mackie well in his future endeavours,” says Matthew Reid, chair of the board of health. “He [Mackie] has resigned in order to pursue new opportunities.”

Dr. Mackie was in the top job at the health unit for the last nine years, and led it through the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Mackie took a leave of absence from his duties on Nov. 15 of last year, but no further details were provided at the time.

On Monday, Dr. Mackie took to Twitter and released an open letter to the community. In the letter, he highlighted the ups and downs he saw while on the job, including the pandemic and the opening of the province’s first overdose prevention site in London.

Dr. Mackie also released a statement to CTV London regarding his departure:

“Suffice it to say, it was a time of much positive change that culminated in the global pandemic and a number of personal changes for me at home.

All of these changes were necessary, but I have to admit that I started the pandemic with less energy than I would have liked. By the time I went on leave, nearly two years into the pandemic, I needed a break.

The past four months have given me time to recover, and to consider my future. After speaking with my family and a number of close friends and advisors, as well as with the Board of Health, it was clear that the time was right for a new chapter in my career.

I regret not being available to help during most of the Omicron wave. However, I also knew that the Health Unit was in great hands with the leadership of Dr. Alex Summers. He has been the best Associate Medical Officer of Health that anyone could ask for, and I know the Health Unit will continue to be in good hands under his leadership.

I’m excited to share with the community what the next chapter in my career will be. The role will be a great opportunity for professional growth, in a place where I can really make a difference.

It’s not ready to be announced yet, but it will be soon. Regardless of my new professional endeavors, I will remain a lifelong supporter of the efforts of local public health.”

Also commenting on the news is Steve Holland, president of CUPE Local 101, which represents about 300 current MLHU employees/

“I’m happy for my members. I think a lot of them are going to be happy,” says Holland “This is an opportunity to save face [and] to try to improve his opportunities in the future,” he says.

Holland adds that statements by the board and Dr. Mackie do not address the workplace culture concerns raised by some of his members.

He also says Dr. Mackie’s resignation doesn’t absolve the board of its responsibility to address concerns about workplace culture,

“This could have been resolved a long time ago if we had stronger leadership that stepped up and said, ‘This is not how we run an organization and we need to do better’,” expressed Holland.

“We take concerns like that very seriously, and we are going to try to work towards improvements whenever we can,” responds Reid.

In Feb. 2013, the Middlesex London Board of Health announced Dr. Chris Mackie would become medical officer of health after working for Public Health Ontario and Hamilton Public Health.

He went on to co-chair the committee that developed London’s anti-poverty strategy and pushed to establish the first supervised drug consumption site in the city.

However, Dr. Mackie faced criticism for leaving large amounts of equipment behind at 50 King St. after declaring the MLHU successfully moved to CitiPlaza.

An investigation found personal information and personal health information remained on two hard drives that were left behind.

Paper documents left at 50 King St. included information about 270 involved in a food poisoning investigation.

Last year, he defended accepting more than $100,000 of pandemic overtime pay during 2020.

Dr. Alex Summers has been the acting medical officer of health since Mackie took a leave of absence last fall.

The Board of Health is holding a confidential meeting Monday evening to discuss next steps.


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