Dr. Bonnie Henry takes over for Dr. Perry Kendall, who is retiring at the end of January. (Black Press)

New provincial health officer takes over in B.C.

Dr. Bonnie Henry replaces retiring Dr. Perry Kendall to head public health efforts

Having battled ebola virus out of Africa and polio in Pakistan, Dr. Bonnie Henry has been named B.C.’s new provincial health officer.

Henry moves up from the deputy provincial health officer role to replace Dr. Perry Kendall, who has headed public health efforts in B.C. since 1999. Henry previously worked for the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

Health Minister Adrian Dix noted that Henry’s experience includes working as a surgeon for the Canadian Armed Forces and leading a project in 2000 to stop the spread of polio in Pakistan.

“Dr. Henry has hands-on experience in managing large-scale public health issues, both internationally and here in B.C.,” Dix said.

Dix praised Kendall for his “legendary” role in public service, including a landmark 2002 report on Indigenous health that led to the creation of the First Nations Health Authority.

Henry said he intends to carry on Kendall’s work in improving health for Indigenous people and disadvantaged children in B.C.

Kendall said he is pleased to pass the torch to Henry, and praised Dix and previous health ministers for respecting the independence of his office even when conclusions were not popular. He thanked the provincial media for taking an interest in public health issues, calling them “interested, fair and averse to fake news.”

Henry was appointed to the deputy role in 2014, and has since provided public health advice on issues such as smoke exposure from last summer’s wildfire season, and the B.C. response to risks such as SARS and the H7N9 bird flu.


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