In a development that has starred up public controversies, Dominique Baker, a public servant by day and travel influencer by night has come under fire for taking a vacation to Jamaica, paid for by Air Canada.
Baker is the manager of the office of border and travel health, a Public Health Agency of Canada program whose purpose is to keep communicable diseases out of Canada and reduce public health risks to travellers.
Speaking on the development, the president of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Iain Stewart stated that it is “unacceptable” that one of the agency’s managers ignored advice and went on vacation in Jamaica last fall.
The agency’s boss averred that although the trip taken by Dominique Baker in November was not related to her work for the federal agency, its employees are expected to heed the public health advice not to travel.
It was gathered that Baker has now removed a blog post from her personal style blog and videos from her Instagram account about an all-expenses paid trip she took to an expensive resort in Montego Bay in November.
Unfortunately, this came after her bosses were alerted to the trip, amid a slew of stories about politicians and health officials ignoring the warning not to travel while theCOVID-19 pandemic continues to rage.
It was disclosed that her trip was paid for by Air Canada Vacations as part of its work hiring social media “influencers” to promote their tours but the November 24 blog post she published about the trip is no longer online.
In strong terms, Stewart stated that the federal public health agency “takes these matters very seriously”.
He continued that “PHAC has consistently told Canadians they should avoid travel during the pandemic”.
“To have employees disregard this travel advice is unacceptable. As a general principle, we expect PHAC employees to encourage Canadians to follow public health advice, not to engage in non-essential travel.”
According to him, the agency became aware of the trip after photos were posted on social media as part of a campaign to promote international vacations.
“When the situation was brought to PHAC’s attention, the matter was acted upon immediately and a review was initiated. We will not comment further to respect the employee’s privacy.”
Reports stipulated that Baker’s videos included a description about what it was like to fly during the pandemic, and the precautions taken by the airline and the hotel to try to keep people safe.
When quizzed about whether there was an ethical issue with an employee accepting a free trip, Stewart succinctly noted that there is a Values and Ethics Code which requires any “real, potential or apparent” conflict of interest to be declared.
Meanwhile, Stewart did not say if Baker is being disciplined for the trip or if she declared any conflict related to it.
This development is coming after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently expressed frustration about Canadian politicians who were failing to lead by example, and ignore the request not to travel internationally.