Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment, has been replaced
By Julia Bell
Dec 5, 2017, 10:30 pm
As Toronto struggles with a new outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the public health agency overseeing Toronto has been criticized for its lack of preparedness for the illness that has killed five people. While Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health department’s chief public health officer, has not been directly involved in the COVID-19 crisis, she was a public health expert who helped guide the response of Toronto Public Health and its partners.
As of March 15, Toronto Public Health had recorded more than 2,700 cases of COVID-19 and had confirmed deaths from five people.
Toronto Public Health Commissioner Barbara Yaffe said that de Villa has worked to better communicate “the health and well being of the community and its residents, and to support the public health strategy to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.”
“She has been an extremely valuable and dedicated public health officer, and her absence is not having a negative impact on our frontline public health and health care officials,” Yaffe said in a statement.
In a written statement issued on Tuesday, Toronto mayor John Tory said “it is my hope she can return to public health work in the coming days.”
Cindy Brannan, executive director of the Ontario Association of Community Health Centres, said de Villa “played a critical role in improving the health of our communities during the COVID-19 outbreak.”
“Dr. de Villa’s leadership on the front lines of this emergency has been essential,” Brannan said. “She is a valued member of the public health team and I wish her a full recovery and speedy recovery.”
In a letter to Yaffe