Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment, will step in to fill the role temporarily – at least for the time being – until Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Chris Adams steps in herself.
The appointment of a new chief is part of the administration’s ongoing commitment to change.
“We have a responsibility and opportunity to be a better place to live. It’s never an easy task,” said Dr. Adams from her home in Toronto. “And when you’re trying to be that kind of city, we’ve got to be clear about what it is we’re looking for. And we’re looking for a leader who is dedicated to that. I think the appointment of Dr. Eileen de Villa is a critical appointment, and it’s made in a clear way in our first choice of a woman of colour.”
A resident of Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood since 1973, de Villa grew up in a home where her mum ran a small beauty salon. She became passionate about public health after studying in Canada and the United States, and earned her medical degree from McMaster University in 1995. “I am the first person to earn a doctorate of public health in Canada. I learned to speak, read and write in French and English. It’s just part of who I am, what I got along the way,” she said.
De Villa’s long, rich career will be a significant resource for her successor as both an academic and a clinician. In her work as a clinician, she has served on medical advisory committees for the Ontario Ministry of Health and long-term care, and has authored, co-authored and edited scientific articles relating to public health and public health education. She has served as medical director of the Canadian Public Health Association’s Public Health Advisory Services and is a member of the executive committee for the American Public Health Association. De Villa has also served as a policy advisor to the Ontario Provincial Health Emergency Planning Committee and the Canadian Centre for Excellence in the Public Health Response to Emerging Infect