Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’, and it’s the wrong direction
The controversy surrounding a controversial column penned by Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic got a new twist on Thursday as Toronto mayor John Tory said the author of the column “gave up her job as chair of Toronto Public Health” over the comments she made about the illness.
“I can tell you from experience as chair of Toronto Public Health,” Tory told reporters when asked about the column, which detailed the personal experiences of six members of the public who contracted the disease after attending a public event hosted by Tory.
The controversy erupted after the Sun published an opinion piece on Thursday, in which the health authority’s vice-chair was quoted as saying she was not “surprised” to hear of members of the public who contracted the coronavirus and that she would not have attended such a public event even if she were healthy.
The “very personal column” was written by the vice-chair, who wrote that even though she was not in the know about the disease, she was happy to hear it had affected the community.
“I want to make it clear that I am not surprised by the illness and infection of a number of TPH staff members who were at Toronto Mayor John Tory’s event on March 14,” she wrote.
“I worked in public health for 16 years before taking on the role of deputy chair for this community-based organization and had no idea that the Mayor and his staff had been advised on March 19 that the event was a probable source of infection. That is why I will not attend the Mayor’s office to celebrate with him, celebrate in spirit with him, or celebrate in any way with him.
“I am disappointed that I will not be able to attend the opening of the pandemic response centre he is working on,” she continued.
Tory said he wanted the public service to “have the respect of the citizens they serve” and for this to happen, the mayor would “exercise his power of dismissal.”
But the mayor’s spokesman, Don Pe