Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment. (Photo: Maud Newton)
The next time you find yourself on the front page of the Toronto Star asking why the city’s top public health official is taking leave of her job for medical treatment, tell the reporter just what you’d like to see happen with Dr. Eileen de Villa: that the city hire Dr. Eileen de Villa to fill the role.
Because if you really feel the need to explain the reason behind the Star’s decision to hire one of New York City’s top public health officials to fill an open position, or the reason why Toronto’s largest city might be better off in the long term, you could point to one of two reasons.
One is the fact that Mayor John Tory is a real tough guy and is demanding that de Villa take a pay cut to stay on, despite the fact that she is the best person to run the Toronto Public Health (TPH) agency, which has over 20,000 employees and budgets over $1 billion a year.
The other is that de Villa’s appointment, which was announced Tuesday morning and was officially released following a media scrum yesterday morning, is, as one writer for The Tyee puts it, “a political fiasco,” with two prominent city councillors, Councillor Sarah Doucette and Councillor Joe Cressy, having publicly disagreed with Tory’s decision to put the embattled Dr. Eileen de Villa on paid leave and then to put her on leave of absence for medical treatment.
The reality is that although the city’s mayor and two councillors agreed with the idea of having de Villa on paid leave for health reasons, they are clearly not comfortable with a major political scandal on their hands.
As the story broke on the front page of the Toronto Star, Tory issued a statement saying he had asked the two councillors, who were at Toronto City Hall Tuesday to discuss a “discussion about a new position” for de Villa, “to discuss the matter of her continued employment.” The Star ran a story about the meeting on Tuesday, with Tory saying he had made