The Middlesex-London Health Unit announced Monday that Dr. Chris Mackie, who has been on a leave of absence for unspecified reasons, has resigned his role as medical officer of health.
The health unit said the resignation took effect last Friday, March 4, and that Mackie is leaving to “pursue other opportunities.”
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The resignation took effect the day after a special confidential meeting of the board of health was held, with Mackie in attendance. Another special board meeting is scheduled for Monday evening.
Little has been shared about the circumstances surrounding Mackie’s leave since it was announced in November, with associate medical officer of health Dr. Alex Summers taking over his role as acting medical officer of health.
Just over a week after his leave was announced, a report emerged from London News Today that Mackie has been the subject of several workplace conduct complaints. Global News has not independently verified these claims.
Steve Holland, the president of CUPE Local 101, which represents about 300 employees at the MLHU, also shared allegations of long-standing workplace culture issues from his members with Global News at the time.
Speaking to Global News on Monday, Holland said he only learned of Mackie’s resignation “at the same time that everybody else did.”
“We have not been given any details other than essentially what the media has received, it’s been kept very quiet,” Holland said.
Holland says he looks forward to working with Summers and Emily Williams, who officially took over as CEO earlier this year. Mackie had also served as the MLHU’s chief executive before his role was split in 2020.
“(Summers and Williams) have been really trying hard. And up to this point in time, they are open to meeting with the union and our members and they do seem to be really wanting to move this in a good direction,” Holland said.
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“If they’re willing to work with me and talk to me and keep the lines of communication open, why wouldn’t I be supportive of that?”
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The MLHU, in a statement, thanked Mackie for his service and wished him well going forward.
“In his nine years with MLHU, Dr. Mackie contributed to many successful initiatives, not the least of which has been the successful public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in London and Middlesex County, and an effective and efficient immunization campaign.”
Summers will continue as acting medical officer of health “as the board determines next steps,” the MLHU added.
Soon after the MLHU’s statement had been shared, Mackie posted an open letter via his personal Twitter account in which he reflected on his time as medical officer of health and offered gratitude to the community and his former coworkers.
In a statement to Global News, Mackie said “as much as I have enjoyed the role of Medical Officer of Health over the past nine years, it is time for me to move on.”
“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,” Mackie added.
“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.”
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Mackie says the four months since his leave was announced by the MLHU in November have given him 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,” Mackie said.
“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.”
Mackie also says he excited to soon announce the next steps for his career, adding that it “will be a great opportunity for professional growth, in a place where I can really make a difference.”
“Regardless of my new professional endeavours, I will remain a lifelong supporter of the efforts of local public health.”
— with files from Global News’ Andrew Graham
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