Departing Ontario COVID-19 adviser reflects on life away from the public eye

Click to play video: 'Director of Ontario Science Advisory Table reflects on role ahead of stepping down'
Director of Ontario Science Advisory Table reflects on role ahead of stepping down
WATCH: Dr. Peter Juni has guided Ontarians throughout the pandemic but has since decided to step down later this spring. He speaks about the province's journey though these past two years and what’s next for him – Mar 28, 2022

The outgoing director of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table says he is looking forward to a quiet life when he moves to England sometime in April.

Dr. Peter Jüni announced he was stepping down from the position he has held since the early days of the pandemic on March 18.

He will move to the United Kingdom at the end of June, where he will work as a professor at Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.

Jüni said he first had discussions with Oxford University in April 2021 to discuss a position and the Swiss national travelled for an interview in the fall. He was offered a position at the end of December and accepted in January.

“I told them I am only available once we are out of the worst,” he told Global News. “That was a part of my negotiations that I wanted to make sure first that we are out of troubled water here and I wouldn’t have left beforehand.”

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Jüni criticized the Ontario government’s pandemic response in his position as the head of the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table. During the third wave of the pandemic, he admitted that he considered stepping down in protest.

His departure, though, is not a statement but a decision that will bring him closer to family in Switzerland.

“We had our highs and lows, but the end result, even though it was bumpy … is it went remarkably well,” he said of how Ontario handled the pandemic to date.

Before the pandemic, Jüni was a well-respected scientist, relatively unknown to the general public. He works at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and is also a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Toronto.

The doctor’s leading pandemic role catapulted him into the public eye.

He said he noticed that change when he visited Oxford to interview. “I found it quite liberating, just to be in a country where I’m not a household name, meaning people don’t recognize me in the street,” he said.

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Being recognized was not an unpleasant experience, Jüni said, but anonymity will be a relief.

The move will allow him to be an academic and “recover a bit.”

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