TORONTO, Ontario — Health Minister Eric Hoskins says an esteemed scientist and a supervisor at Toronto’s public health unit has been taken off duty for personal reasons while undergoing medical treatment.
Dr. Eileen de Villa, who has served as the assistant director of infection prevention and control for the Toronto Public Health unit since 1995, is undergoing treatment at the Beth Israel Milton hospital for a serious medical condition, Hoskins said in a statement Monday.
De Villa will be on medical leave until further notice, Hoskins said. He said his department will also be conducting a review of the matter.
“I understand the extreme concern that has been felt within the health sector and across the city regarding Dr. de Villa’s decision to take medical leave and I take the public health responsibility very seriously,” Hoskins said.
“This is a personal health decision to address an emergent medical condition and as such, I am confident that the public health unit’s current and in-place policies and procedures will continue to be upheld,” he said.
Over the last 14 years, Hoskins said de Villa has had a significant role in public health’s HIV and AIDS programs, along with a range of other work on the prevention of communicable diseases, which he said helps to protect the city’s population.
Hoskins added that Mayor John Tory has accepted de Villa’s absence, which the two have long discussed.
“It is critical that Dr. de Villa is well-supported during this difficult period,” Hoskins said.
“I wish Dr. de Villa a full and speedy recovery and I am confident that as soon as Dr. de Villa’s condition permits, she will return to work,” he said.