Toronto’s medical officer of health, who led COVID-19 fight, to resign

Click to play video: 'Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s top public health official, announces resignation'
Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s top public health official, announces resignation
WATCH - Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s top public health official, announces resignation

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health who led the fight against COVID-19, says she will leave the post by year’s end.

De Villa, who has served as the city’s top public health official since 2017, announced her resignation in a video posted on YouTube Tuesday. Her last day in the post will be Dec. 31.

“This was not a decision I took lightly. However, after several months of heartfelt discussions with my family, and taking some time to think about and to reassess my future path, I’m ready to embark on the next chapter of my professional life and spend more time with my family,” she said.

“I also believe we are now in a good position to transition to a new medical officer of health to lead Toronto Public Health, as we are stabilizing as an organization after the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we continue to seek to address the public health challenges that face our city, particularly emerging from the events of the last few years.”

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During her tenure as medical officer of health, de Villa has been at the forefront of several public health issues, including overseeing the largest vaccination campaign in Toronto’s history during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the response to the ongoing drug toxicity crisis.

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According to her official bio on the city’s website, de Villa has authored, published and presented research on issues including public health considerations for city planning and emergency preparedness, communicable and infectious disease control and public health policy development.

“I want to ensure you that in the time that’s left, I will continue to press on and make sure that together with the organization, we will continue to do our very best to meet the health needs of Torontonians,” she said.

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In a statement, Mayor Olivia Chow thanked de Villa for her work.

“You navigated Toronto Public Health through an incredibly difficult and uncertain time during the pandemic with integrity and compassion,” she said.

“As mayor, I’m grateful for your work to keep our city healthy.”

Ward 13 Coun. Chris Moise, who chairs the Toronto Board of Health, said in a statement de Villa’s contributions to the city are “immeasurable.

“Although Dr. de Villa announced her retirement today, she will continue shepherding us through this transitional period until the year’s end, ensuring a smooth transition,” he said.

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“Toronto Public Health’s new Strategic Plan will be complete, The Works’ relocation will be nearly complete and a comprehensive transition plan will be implemented for her successor. To begin that process, I will bring forward a motion at the upcoming Board of Health meeting on May 27 to form a search committee for our next Medical Officer of Health.”

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