One of Ontario’s top medical officers is facing critical online feedback after making what some consider cavalier statements on a hot mic prior to a press conference earlier this week.
Footage on Twitter shows Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe shuffling some papers next to colleague Dr. David Williams, ahead of their twice weekly briefing.
— Stephen Punwasi (@StephenPunwasi) December 16, 2020
“I don’t know why I bring these papers, I never look at them,” she tells him. “I just say whatever they write down for me.”
“Whenever you give the numbers, I go ‘oh, oh, oh,’” he replies and then laughs.
The 15 second clip, which has been viewed thousands of times online, is raising some eyebrows on social media.
In private industry people say what they are told & paid to say so these folks may be ideally suited for private industry. The fact that they are paid to keep Ontarians healthy but are willing to say what the politicians tell them to is disgusting.
— Ronnie (Wear a Mask!) Zwierz 🇨🇦 (@PunnedIt55) December 16, 2020
I agree Dr. Williams and Barbara Yaffe's video deserves to be EVERYWHERE.
For me, that's the end.
Kicking a castle of sand. This is NOT about a virus.
WAKE UP AND WATCH OUT!!#covid19 #Canada #greatReset #coronavirus https://t.co/PCrRdYzq2j
— JAC (@647_416) December 15, 2020
They both laugh and it sounds like Williams agrees.
Ooopsies but omg - “I just say whatever they write down for me” - Maybe the aliens can save us because we certainly can’t seem to ourselves.
— Agatha Farmer (@agathafarmer_) December 15, 2020
Barbara's comment about the papers is about it being useless to be prepared for scientific or medically oriented questions that never happen. Instead they get exactly the kinds of questions the comms people have anticipated. Both David and Barbara suck at political theatre.
— PoliFun Pwonk (@DaSchwantz) December 16, 2020
I think this is not embarrassing, it’s deception. How can we trust these people at all.
— Mark G. 🇨🇦 (@Daytime_Baller) December 16, 2020
In a statement to CTV News Toronto, Yaffe downplayed the incident, saying she speaks freely during the briefings. She says the papers she was referencing are “researched and vetted remarks” brought to her by her communications team, and they usually include the new number of cases and deaths reported in Ontario for that particular day.
“My comments overheard on a live microphone before Monday’s 3 p.m. COVID-19 media update were my bantering with Dr. Williams…” she said. “Of course I do speak freely and have no notes for responding to questions from the media.”
Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath told the outlet that the remarks give weight to people questioning who is in charge when it comes to the province’s response to the pandemic.
“Every time Doug Ford gets to a microphone and says he is listening to the advice of all these various experts it rings hollow because the evidence is starting to really pile up that that is not happening,” she told CTV.
On Wednesday, Ontario reported 2,139 new COVID-19 cases and 43 more deaths. It’s the second day in a row the province has seen over 2,000 new cases of the virus.