Eileen de Villa

Last updated

As Medical Officer of Health, de Villa has been leading the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto since the city saw its first case of COVID-19 on January 25, 2020. [11]

Initial response (spring/summer 2020)

In April 2020, de Villa initially used her authority under section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act to order all individuals with COVID-19—as well as those who have been in contact with confirmed cases—to remain home for 14 days. [12] Throughout the COVID-19 response, she has advised Mayor John Tory on measures the municipal government could take, such as declaring a state of emergency [13] [14] —which allows the mayor to assume the powers of Toronto City Council and expedite legislation—introducing a physical distancing bylaw in parks, [15] and advised City Council to pass a bylaw mandating face masks. [16]

Second wave (fall 2020/winter 2021)

While COVID-19 case numbers remained stable throughout the summer, in September 2020 de Villa warned of a resurgence in cases based on data from other jurisdictions, [17] urging provincial and municipal leaders to develop new measures for the coming months. [18] On September 29, Premier Doug Ford conceded that the province was experiencing a second wave and began to study implementing a new restrictions framework. [19]

Third wave (spring 2021)

The provincial government began loosening restrictions in March 2021, with de Villa expressing concerns regarding the growing presence of COVID-19 variants in the city and urging caution. [20] De Villa urged the province to enhance its measures, [21] and amidst a rapid increase in cases and growing ICU occupancy in April 2021, the provincial government issued a new stay-at-home order on April 8. De Villa warned that the rate of daily cases may outpace the ability to rollout vaccines, and that the city remained at risk, [22] even with new restrictions. [23] [24] She issued a section 22 order on April 6, closing Toronto schools from April 7 to April 19, a day after Dr. Lawrence Loh of the Region of Peel issued a similar order for its schools. [25] The Ontario government shortly ordered all schools closed province-wide, following a record number of cases, just a day after education minister Stephen Lecce insisted schools remained safe. [26] The province took further action on April 16, announcing new restrictions and enhanced enforcement measures. [27] On April 20, in conjunction with Peel Region's public health unit, Toronto Public Health announced that de Villa would issue section 22 orders to close workplaces with active COVID-19 outbreaks. [28] [29] [30] De Villa and Loh also called on the Ford government to restore paid sick leave, which would reduce income disruption for workers isolating due to COVID-19. [31]

Leave of absence

On December 7, 2021, de Villa announced that she would be taking a leave of absence until December 20 in order to have surgery to address the a mass of pre-cancerous cells, initially discovered following a mammogram she had in the summer. Deputy Medical Officer of Health Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey will serve as Medical Officer of Health during her absence. De Villa took the opportunity to encourage others to ensure they keep up with routine health screenings to catch problems early. [32] [33]

Awards and honours

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Eileen de Villa
5th Toronto Medical Officer of Health
Assumed office
March 27, 2017