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New Nunavut deputy health officer fresh from Algoma public health scandal

Nunavut has a new deputy chief medical officer of health, who arrived in the territory after facing criticism at an Ontario public health unit about her leadership skills.

Dr. Kim Barker resigned from Ontario job following many concerns about her leadership

Nunavut has a new deputy chief medical officer of health, who arrived in the territory after facing criticism at an Ontario public health unit about her leadership skills.

Dr. Kim Barker started her job in Nunavut in April as the second-in-command to Dr. Maureen Baikie.

Kim Barker attends the launch of an international public health program at Lake Superior State University, in this September 2014 photo released by the university. She was Medical Officer of Health for the Algoma Public Health Unit in Ontario at the time. (Lake Superior State University)

Before that, Barker was the head of the Algoma Public Health Unit, which has its headquarters in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Just before she was hired, the unit's chief financial officer was charged with breach of trust and theft over $5,000.

As part of the process to straighten out the unit's finances, Barker recommended hiring an Interim Chief Financial Officer named Shaun Rothberg.

Rothberg turned out to be Shaun Rootenberg, a man who had been convicted of fraud and had served time in a federal penitentiary.

Later, an assessment of the public health unit ordered by the Ontario Ministry of Health found the way Barker went about hiring Rothberg to be "flawed."

The report said Barker rejected recommendations of human resources staff during the process of obtaining a recruitment firm to find an Interim Chief Financial Officer and didn't involve HR when recommending Rothberg to the Algoma Public Health Unit's board. She gave the board a brief overview of Rothberg's experience, but no additional detail was provided, even when requested.

Barker resigned from the Algoma job in January, shortly after Rothberg's identity was reported in the media.

"The failure of the board to provide adequate oversight and follow up is no defence for the behaviour of [Dr. Barker]," wrote Graham Scott, who was appointed to do the assessment.

Scott's report, made public last month but heavily redacted, had a number of other criticisms about Barker's job performance including that she struggled in a leadership role, that she ignored staff recommendations and that she made decisions without consulting senior management. The report also noted her lack of experience in management when she was hired as the head of Algoma's public health unit.

CBC News contacted Dr. Barker. She said she has been asked not to talk to the media about this situation but did say that she disclosed what happened in Algoma during the interview process with the Government of Nunavut.

CBC News also contacted Nunavut's health department about this story. The department says it never comments directly about staff and it will not explain its hiring practices.

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