This is the third installment in a three-part series on Dr. John O'Connor, the family physician to first identify higher-than-average cancer rates and rare forms of cancer in communities downstream of the Alberta oilsands.
Part 3: The Spotlight Turns On Fort Chip Doctor
After the story of Fort Chip’s health problems broke, Health Canada sent physicians out to the small, northern community.
Dr. John O’Connor said one of the Health Canada doctors went into the local nursing station and, in front of a reporter, filled a mug with Fort Chip water and drank from it, saying, ‘See, there’s nothing wrong with it.’
“That was such a kick in the face for everyone,” O’Connor said. “Just a complete dismissal of their concerns.”
Health Canada eventually requested the charts of the patients who had died. Six weeks later they announced the findings of a report that concluded cancer rates were no higher in Fort Chip than expected.
For O’Connor, however, the numbers “just didn’t match up.”