Ontario county’s top doctor sues Queen’s University over ‘malicious’ comments about his pandemic views

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Dr. Matthew Strauss — a controversial, performing medical officer of well being in southern Ontario — is suing Queen’s University and the pinnacle of its medication division for over $600,000, saying he had no alternative however to resign from his college place due to “malicious, aggressive, condescending and defamatory statements” made about him.

The assertion of declare, filed Oct. 20, states Dr. Stephen Archer, Strauss’s direct supervisor and the pinnacle of the medication division at Queen’s in Kingston, Ont., consistently berated Strauss over his public criticism of COVID-19 public well being measures, together with lockdowns.

None of the claims have been confirmed in courtroom and no assertion of defence has been filed.

Queen’s University advised CBC Hamilton it couldn’t touch upon the case and Archer did not reply to requests for remark. Strauss declined to talk on the document about the assertion of declare.

Strauss, the performing medical officer of well being for Haldimand and Norfolk counties, has confronted criticism for his public comments earlier than.

He beforehand stated on social media he’d sooner give his kids COVID-19 over a Happy Meal, and when he was initially introduced on as performing medical officer of well being in September 2021, the Ontario Liberals known as on the well being minister to veto his hiring.

Earlier this yr, he wrote op-eds to clarify his critique of masking and vaccine mandates

‘Be a doctor not a publicist’

Strauss labored at Queen’s as an assistant professor of medication from July 2019 to November 2021. He additionally held privileges as a basic inner medication doctor and an intensive care unit (ICU) specialist at Kingston General Hospital, in accordance with the assertion of declare.

He beforehand labored as an assistant scientific professor at McMaster University in Hamilton and because the medical director of crucial care at Guelph General Hospital.

Steve Archer is head of Queen’s University’s division of medication. (Steve Archer/Twitter)

The declare says Archer criticized Strauss between August and October 2020 for what Strauss stated on social media and in information articles.

“The tone and content material of Dr. Archer’s communications brought on Dr. Strauss to turn out to be upset and anxious,” reads the declare.

Strauss went on go away from his PhD program in October, in accordance with the declare, however it is not clear when he returned.

He confronted extra criticism between December and February, in accordance with the declare.

“Your professed love of freedom of expression is extra self-centred than in service of our sufferers or trainees,” reads an e mail from Archer to Strauss and 5 others on Dec. 23, 2020, in accordance with the assertion of declare.

“You had been employed to be a doctor not a publicist.”

The declare says that regardless of the criticism, Strauss had an “fully constructive” annual efficiency overview in March 2021.

About a month later, the declare states, Archer and others at Queen’s despatched correspondence on April 22, 2021, that stated Strauss’s public comments are “harmful and deceptive,” and his behaviour “threatens to hazard sufferers.”

It additionally stated he was “irresponsibly” selling folks to violate public well being measures whereas additionally “seeding distrust for public well being establishments.”

Strauss endured ‘vital stress’

“Dr. Archer additional threatened Dr. Strauss, noting his medical licence could possibly be in jeopardy and his hospital privileges could possibly be revoked if he continued expressing himself on issues of great public curiosity relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and his positions on lockdowns and different restrictions.”

The declare states that when Strauss advised the college wasn’t performing in good religion towards him, Archer advised Strauss his contract would not be renewed, main Strauss to haven’t any alternative however to depart the establishment.

Queen’s University is in Kingston, Ont. (Frédéric Pepin/CBC)

Strauss’s declare says the defamatory comments broken his relationships, his employment prospects and his skill to earn more cash.

He stated it additionally brought on him “vital stress, nervousness, emotional ache and struggling.”

Strauss resigned from the college on Nov. 19, 2021, regardless of the very fact his contract wasn’t set to finish till June 30, 2022, in accordance with the declare.

Along with asking for at the least $600,000 — which features a mixture of basic, ethical and punitive damages — the declare asks Queen’s for misplaced wages and advantages. 

The declare additionally requests the defendants take away any defamatory phrases about Strauss from all media of their management and do not publish some other defamatory phrases about him.

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