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Government & policy

Ex-deputy health minister takes city manager post

VANCOUVER – Dr. Penny Ballem (pictured), a former deputy minister of health in British Columbia, has accepted a position as city manager in Vancouver. Dr. Ballem is a physician at St. Paul’s hospital and a clinical professor at the University of B.C.’s department of hematology and bone marrow transplant.

She is also a corporate director for Bentall Capital G.P. Ltd. and a senior advisor to RPO Management Consultants. Trained as a clinical hematologist, Dr. Ballem has served as a vice- president at the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of B.C.

Said to be a staunch defender of harm-reduction strategy and universal health care, she was recruited by Premier Gordon Campbell to be deputy health minister in 2001. But in 2006 Dr. Ballem abruptly left her job, giving no notice and seeking no severance, and criticized the government’s approach to her ministry.

According to a report in the Vancouver Sun, her newest transition has also raised eyebrows. Judy Rogers, city manager since 1999, was ousted within a week of Gregor Robertson taking office as the new mayor of Vancouver. The report said that Ballem’s appointment came without a traditional national search.

Describing her as a serious talent, Robertson said Dr. Ballem will be key to implementing the new council’s ambitious agenda.

“Her background in health will be a real asset to the city, particularly on the homelessness initiatives and her understanding of public health and mental health,” Robertson said. “But more broadly she has a fantastic track record of public service and a commitment to the city of Vancouver.”