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Former hospital CEO to get more than $1M payout after losing job following Caribbean vacation

Posted: January 12, 2021

(January 11, 2021)

By: Joanna Frketich, Cambridge Times


Dr. Tom Stewart will get a payout as high as $1.1 million after losing his job as CEO of St. Joseph’s Health System over a Caribbean vacation.

“For the staff and the community it feels like a slap in the face,” said Natalie Mehra, executive director of the Ontario Health Coalition.

Stewart took a family trip to his private home in the Dominican Republic while on vacation from Dec. 18 to Jan. 5. On Jan. 7, he lost the job of leading the massive health system that includes hospitals, long-term care homes and home care in Hamilton, Niagara, Kitchener, Guelph and Brantford.

St. Joseph’s and Stewart “parted ways on a without-cause basis,” board chair Sister Anne Anderson said in a statement Monday evening. “His requested vacation was board approved. All terms of Dr. Stewart’s contract will be upheld.”

It’s not clear if the board approved Stewart’s international travel. His contract entitles him to 24 months’ pay over 24 months.

“It is wrong to provide generous compensation like this and the hospital … should reconsider,” said Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, which is a part of the Canadian Union of Public Employees union. “Dr. Stewart was in a position of leadership and he hurt his institution and should not be rewarded for that. St. Joe’s should not compound this by enriching someone who let the hospital down in a profound way.”

Stewart’s annual base salary was $552,500 with performance pay of $97,500. The golden handshake is calculated on the base salary. Certain employment-related benefits will also continue for 24 months.

The payout ends early if Stewart obtains another job and states he must “diligently” search.

Stewart resigned from boards that provide COVID-19 advice to the province immediately after the trip became public on Jan. 5. He was ousted as the CEO of Niagara Health on Jan. 6. On Jan. 7, he parted ways with the health system that includes St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener.

St. Joseph’s has appointed experienced hospital leader Winnie Doyle as interim president and CEO as of Jan. 18. She was an executive at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton before announcing her retirement in July and interim president before Melissa Farrell was hired for the job in April 2019.

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