Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment in Mexico City, has been asked to step-in.
It’s not clear whether she’ll accept the leadership post of Ontario’s medical officer of health, which could see her replaced by Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Canada’s chief medical journal editor, or whether she’ll take a break from her post in Toronto.
The leadership has come into question since de Villa was forced to step aside when her mother died at the onset of a serious illness in December.
In her role as Toronto’s public health chief, de Villa has been publicly criticizing the city’s private-sector hospital system, prompting a rare wave of negative attention in the city and on the national stage.
In a statement to the Star, de Villa said she was “truly saddened” by the recent controversy surrounding the mayor and the hospital system, but would not be resigning.
“I am proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for Toronto’s public health over the past four years, including a record-breaking $7.3 billion in new funding on public health services,” said de Villa, who began her public health career in 1977.
“The province is committed to being transparent with the facts, especially when it comes to the actions of elected officials, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the information that’s been provided.”
The Star’s review of the events preceding de Villa’s illness and subsequent departure from Toronto Health have revealed troubling issues surrounding the management of the hospital system, and are a clear reflection of a lack of transparency and accountability when it comes to the health of the city.
De Villa’s mother, Eileen (Elly) McAllister, had a history of heart problems, including a cardiac arrest on May 25, 2017.
The next day, the Toronto Star’s Eileen de Villa revealed details of an extramarital affair with McAllister, which led to her death the following day.
In the ensuing