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Wong-Tam to step away from role as vice-chair of Toronto Board of Health

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam speaks in Toronto on Wednesday Sept. 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/George Pimentel

Toronto Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam says she will be stepping away from her role as vice-chair of the Toronto Board of Health next month.

The announcement came amid criticism over an op-ed on COVID-19 vaccinations she wrote in the Toronto Sun last week.

Wong-Tam, who is the councillor for Toronto Centre, said she sought to “promote dialogue and civility” with the op-ed, which called out political divisiveness arising as a result of COVID-19 vaccinations.

But Wong-Tam faced criticism on social media after stating in the piece that vaccinated individuals are just as likely to spread COVID-19 as those who are unvaccinated.

Read more: Toronto Coun. Joe Cressy announces he won’t seek re-election

“I unfortunately made an honest mistake with the information I shared from an August 2021 memo from the Chief Medical Officer of Health,” Wong-Tam said in a statement Monday.

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“That memo is outdated and the context in which I shared it was misleading and left the wrong impression. For that, I am very sorry.

“In short, I believe the scientific evidence is clear: vaccinations are an essential tool in ending the pandemic. Everyone who is able should get their shot. The more vaccinated people we have, the less transmission we have.”

In the statement, Wong-Tam again called for respect when discussing COVID-19 vaccinations and said those who have not yet been vaccinated due to “genuine concerns” should not be treated with disdain.

Wong-Tam also said she is “honestly conflicted” about vaccine mandates.

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“I want to do everything we can to protect essential public services while recognizing that BIPOC communities are broadly represented in those who are unvaccinated,” she said.

“I want them to be vaccinated as soon as possible, but I do not like seeing them lose their jobs and I do not like seeing the City having to reduce public services that benefit the communities that need them most.”

Wong-Tam went on to say that her appointment as the vice-chair of the Toronto Board of Health ends next month and she won’t be extending it.

She told Global News that her decision to step away from the role is “a combination of things, between chairing two other committees on top of my heavy downtown workload, and now this incident. I’m honestly stretched thin.”

Wong-Tam said she would still like to serve as a general member of the board of health should council members agree.

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