A prominent Ontario CEO has relinquished her position on the provincial task force set up to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine following an overseas trip.
“Today, Premier Ford accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December,” according to a statement from the premier’s office.
Hasenfratz is CEO of Linamar Corporation, a global auto-parts manufacturer based in Guelph that was founded by her father Frank Hasenfratz.
In a statement, she said she regretted her decision to travel over the holidays and had apologized to Ford as well as retired general Rick Hillier, who is heading Ontario’s vaccination efforts, and the other members of the task force.
“After speaking with General (Ret.) Rick Hillier and Premier Doug Ford this afternoon, I have made the difficult decision to step aside from Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force,” Hasenfratz said.
“I would like to continue my work in advising on effective rollout of the vaccination program, but I would not want my continued participation to cause distraction from the excellent work the task force is undertaking at this critical time,” she continued.
“While it is true that I travelled outside the country over the holidays, I followed all pandemic protocols of both countries and remain in quarantine today as public health guidelines require,” said Hasenfratz.
Hasenfratz is one of a growing number of high-profile Canadians who have stepped down or been demoted from public positions over travel outside of the country despite public health recommendations to avoid non-essential trips.
The list includes former Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips, federal members of Parliament, and the director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.
Linamar was recently in the news after the company announced it would double dividends to shareholders due to a jump in earnings last year, despite also collecting a federal wage subsidy. Linamar received $108.1 million in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) through the first three quarters of the year while paying out a total of $15.7 million in dividends.
Hasenfratz was named the Canadian Outstanding CEO in November 2018 and received the Order of Canada the same year. She has also received honours for her achievements from the governments of France and Hungary, and co-chairs the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.