03/20/2020 12:17 EDT | Updated 03/21/2020 10:07 EDT

Former Health Minister Joins ‘Front Line’ Fight Against COVID-19

Jane Philpott says she's back to work as a doctor amid the pandemic.

Jane Philpott/Twitter
Former federal health minister Jane Philpott poses for a photo with an unidentified companion that was posted on her Twitter page Thursday.

Canada’s former federal health minister, Dr. Jane Philpott, is one of the thousands of health-care professionals who have “returned to the front lines” because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philpott, a longtime family physician before entering the political arena in 2015, said on Twitter Thursday that she is supporting the “amazing team” at the COVID-19 assessment centre in Markham-Stouffville hospital, where she previously served as chief of family medicine. 

“Thanks for answering the call of duty. Why am I not surprised!” responded Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, in just one of many messages praising her efforts.

Philpott served as the MP for Markham-Stouffville from 2015 to 2019, and as health minister from November 2015 to August 2017. She also served as minister of Indigenous services and, briefly, Treasury Board president before stepping down amid the SNC-Lavalin affair.

She ran unsuccessfully as an Independent candidate in the fall federal election. Last month, she was named the dean of Queen’s University’s faculty of health sciences.

In a brief interview with CTV News Friday morning, Philpott expressed some concerns about the capacity of health- care workers to test for the virus.

“There are more tests now that are being done than the current public health facilities can handle, so I know that various organizations are trying to work at trying to increase that capacity,” she said. 

Philpott also lauded Canadians for pulling together at an extraordinarily difficult time for the country.

“I don’t know if you can ever be as ready as you would like to be in an emergency case like this but it is not for a lack of incredibly hard work and goodwill amongst all health organizations trying to move together in the same direction,” she said.

She said the hospital administration moved at an “unbelievably” fast pace to ensure she had her accreditation up and running to start working right away.

“I expect that’s the kind of thing that is happening everywhere across the country,” she said.

“I have to just give a shout out to the people who are well behind the scenes on this, who make those kinds of things happen. It’s true that doctors and nurses, health care workers, lab workers and administrators are all saying: ‘What do I need to do?’

“Canadians want so much to be able to help their fellow citizens and it’s a really beautiful thing to see happening.”

Provinces have put out a call to retired doctors, nurses, and health- care workers to suit up in the fight against COVID-19 as cases continue to grow. Thousands have already answered the call.

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