'It's just a list': Grey Bruce board of health chair comments on MOH pay

·2 min read

GREY-BRUCE – Sue Patterson, chair of the Grey Bruce Board of Health, wants to set the record straight about certain facts involving the Grey Bruce Health Unit, especially concerning Dr. Ian Arra.

She started with the Sunshine List, released recently, that lists public employees earning over $100,000 per year including salary and overtime. “It’s just a list,” she said.

While Arra was listed as earning $631,510 in the past year, making him the highest paid public servant in the region, Paterson said the medical officer of health has literally worked every day since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. That means evenings, weekends and holidays. The Sunshine List does not take into consideration things like pandemics, or the fact that MOH duties in larger centres are shared among a number of people.

She further noted his salary is set by the province. And the province has taken responsibility for COVID-related expenses

There is no associate medical officer of health in Grey-Bruce. While there have been physician consultants, there are tasks that cannot be done by a physician consultant, only a MOH or associate MOH. And in Grey-Bruce, that means Arra.

A statement released last week by the health unit stated, “From the beginning of the pandemic, Arra took full responsibility, and worked literally every day, to ensure the health and well-being of the residents of Grey Bruce. In addition to his regular hours, he worked the equivalent of almost another year in overtime in the final 10 months of 2020. In terms of equity, it is noteworthy he received the same overtime rate as would be available to any unionized staff putting in those kinds of overtime hours. These overtime rates, for all union and non-union positions, are eligible for the provisions under the provincial government’s extraordinary funding related to COVID-19.”

In closing the March 26 board meeting, Paterson thanked Arra and his team. “On behalf of the board, thank you … if not for everyone, we would not be in the positive position we’re in.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times