University of Sask. suspends surgery prof who made COVID-19 claims
SASKATOON -- A Saskatoon surgeon who publicly made claims concerning COVID-19 vaccines has been suspended from the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine and fired by the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).
Dr. Francis Christian appeared in an online video where he called for the pause of the COVID-19 vaccinations for children and called the vaccines "experimental injections."
Christian reiterated his claim during a June 17 media availability held outside Walter Murray Collegiate where he refused to answer questions from reporters.
On its website, the Government of Canada says its authorization process "is recognized around the world for its high standards and rigorous review" and decisions are based "only on scientific and medical evidence showing that vaccines are safe and effective."
In an email to staff obtained by CTV News, the interim head of the university's surgery department said Christian's academic and responsibilities are "temporarily and immediately suspended" as of Wednesday.
The email from Brian Ulmer said that the suspension also applies to Christian's role as quality improvement and patient safety director and his role as the university's director of surgical humanities.
Ulmer did not specify the reason for Christian's suspension in the email.
In an emailed statement, college of medicine dean Preston Smith confirmed the suspension and said Christian's "actions and public statements" are under review by the SHA and the university.
Smith said while the university encourages "public debate of important societal issues," its medical faculty is subject to ethical and professional standards governing the practice of medicine.
The SHA said it has terminated Christian’s contract under the Provincial Academic Clinical Funding Plan Agreement. It said it is required to give 90 days notice, so Christian’s contract will end on Sept. 21.
“While we respect that residents of Saskatchewan have a right to free speech, health system leaders are expected to be committed to fact-based, scientifically driven public messaging. Given the risks of COVID, leaders who depart from this commitment in favour of conspiracy theories put Ives at risk by potentially discouraging uptake on life saving vaccines,” the SHA said in a statement to CTV News.