De Villa leaves Toronto as chief public health officer

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment in Switzerland, will return to work on July 1.

The City of Toronto announced Tuesday that de Villa will take on the role when she returns to work.

On her departure, the City said, de Villa will have served as Toronto’s chief public health officer since July 2018.

De Villa was appointed to the role of chief public health officer on July 1, 2018.

Speaking to reporters, de Villa said she was leaving work with “a heavy heart.”

“I am leaving Toronto with a heavy heart,” she said. “It is hard to imagine the work of the public health department and Toronto’s public health directorate without me there.”

When she left for Switzerland, de Villa is expected to receive a severance payment of $300,000.

De Villa took leave from her position as a medical officer of health in December after learning she had stage 4 thyroid cancer, two years after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

She was diagnosed with nodular thyroid cancer in 2017 and has undergone two surgeries to remove the tumour from her neck.

The Toronto District Health Unit (TDHU) said de Villa also had a thyroid scan and a routine follow-up appointment, and that she was cleared to return to work.

“Over the last year, as our patients have been under siege and all of our resources have been stretched, she has been the voice of reason,” the TDHU said in a statement.

She will also be taking on the role of “public health liaison,” working with Toronto Public Health to “collaborate with municipalities on public health issues” and will help oversee the City’s efforts to reduce community health risks.

Public Health Toronto, meanwhile, will work on a project with the City to develop a city-wide public health assessment to be carried out on a regular basis and

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