Kelowna’s Renee Merrifield being replaced as Liberal health critic | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna’s Renee Merrifield being replaced as Liberal health critic

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield
Image Credit: Submitted/Renee Merrifield
September 17, 2021 - 10:50 AM

After getting into a Twitter spat about mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers, Kelowna-Mission MLA and health critic Renee Merrifield no longer holds that position.

Earlier this week, Merrifield got into a fight on Twitter with Global TV’s Keith Baldrey in which she refused to answer his direct question as to whether she supported mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers, answering: “Of course we support public health orders to protect British Columbians in our health care system.”

READ MORE: COVID restrictions eased in Interior Health as mandatory vaccinations announced for B.C. health-care workers

That, and other incidents of questionable comments about the way the province is handling COVID, triggered calls from members of her party for her to be replaced as health critic, as reported in The Orca yesterday, Sept. 16.

Later in the day, the party said Merrifield – who is also running for the leadership of her party – and the two other sitting Liberal members running for the leadership had “agreed” to step aside during the leadership race.

When asked by, in a text exchange, whether the candidates put forward the idea of resigning or whether it was demanded or required by the party, Merrifield did answer directly.

“I am really excited to focus on the leadership race,” she wrote.

On the issue of mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers, which seems to have triggered this change in the legislative roles of leadership candidates, Merrifield had posted an article about concerns nurses had about the mandatory vaccination orders due to the chronic shortage of nurses.

READ MORE: Mandatory vaccines for nurses making hospitals even more unsafe: union

“We also want to see the plan to deal with staff shortages if healthcare workers are sent home,” Merrifield posted.

But when asked if she specifically supported mandatory vaccinations for health-care workers she said in a text message, “I support all public health orders. Mandatory vaccination is a public health order.”

She was also asked if she, herself, has been vaccinated.

“I am double vaccinated,” she said.

Merrifield was first elected in October 2020 and was appointed the Liberal health critic, a key critic position given the ongoing COVID pandemic.

She has also made a number of comments that have put into question her support of Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In April she suggested that taking Vitamin D and being fit prevented COVID.

“What I’m saying is be healthy,” Merrifield told at the time. “What I’m saying is do what you need to do to stay well to give yourself and your body the best fighting chance against COVID.”

READ MORE: Kelowna MLA, Liberal health critic made false claims about COVID-19

Then, in June, she presented a petition to the Legislature from people opposed to mask wearing in schools even though, she said, she didn’t believe in what it was saying.

“While I disagreed with the premise of the petition, I fulfilled my role as their MLA in the presentation,” she wrote on Facebook at the time. “One of the ways those residents can raise their views in our parliamentary democracy is to organize a petition, obtain support from fellow British Columbians and ask their elected representatives to present it in the legislature.”

READ MORE: Health critic Renee Merrifield presents anti-mask petition she says she doesn’t believe in

Interim Liberal Party leader Shirley Bond will replace Merrifield as health critic.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar is replacing leadership candidate Ellis Ross as environment critic while Michael Lee is being replaced by Jordan Sturdy as transportation critic.

Kevin Falcon, Val Litwin and Gavin Dew are also running for the leadership but do not have seats in the Legislature. The leader will be elected in February.

READ MORE: B.C. Liberal Party leader hopeful Renee Merrifield on leadership, taking hits and colouring books

The Liberal Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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