Toronto Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa resigning

She was first appointed to to lead Toronto Public Health in 2017 and has spent the last seven years at the forefront of public health efforts across the city.

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa has announced that she will be resigning from her role as of this December.

She was first appointed to to lead Toronto Public Health in 2017 and has spent the last seven years at the forefront of public health efforts across the city.

Her resignation will be effective Dec. 31, 2024.

“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 to spend more time with my family,” said De. de Villa in a video posted on YouTube.

Mayor Olivia Chow thanked Dr. de Villa for her leadership in a post on X. “You navigated Toronto Public Health through an incredibly difficult and uncertain time during the pandemic with integrity and compassion. As mayor, I’m grateful for your work to keep our city healthy.”

The doctor was a key figure during Toronto’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which included daily lives updates over the first six months and the rollout of the vaccination program.

“I also believe that 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,” added Dr. de Villa in her message.

In a statement, Board of Health Chair Chris Moise said Dr. de Villa’s contributions to the city are immeasurable.

“It was an incredibly difficult experience for everyone, especially Toronto Public Health staff, but Dr. De Villa consistently delivered critical updates with a reassuring voice that said “it is going to be okay”, even when the path ahead seemed uncertain.”

She was also at the forefront of creating a response to the ongoing drug toxicity crisis in the city, including requesting Toronto receiving an exemption from Health Canada to decriminalize all controlled drugs and substances for personal use.

“As we continue to seek to address the public health challenges that face our city, particularly emerging from the event of the last few years … there is much work that we have yet to accomplish over the next six months and I want to assure 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,” said Dr. de Villa.

“Thank you for your service to the City of Toronto. Your leadership in building a healthier, more equitable city has made a lasting impact, and your dedication to public health will be remembered and celebrated,” added Moise in his statement.

On a lighter note, Dr. de Villa gained online notoriety for her affinity for scarves after a Twitter account tracked the different scarves she wore during daily COVID-19 updates.

In an interview with CityNews back in 2021, she called it “a glimmer of hope” during a dark time.

“To have that sense of humor, I think is a real testament to the kind of city that we are, the residents that we have and how we still manage to find glimmers of hope, glimmers of humor, things to smile and laugh about. That’s the sign of a really good city. So to me, that’s one of the many little bright spots that I’ve encountered over the last two years of this pandemic,” shared Dr. de Villa.

Her resignation comes a week after Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, who was also instrumental in the city’s COVID-19 response, announced his retirement in October of this year.

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