Eileen de Villa is taking leave of absence to take time off for medical reasons

Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment. Photo by Ian Waldie, Global News

The Health Ministry should have been quicker to tell Toronto Public Health about Dr. Eileen de Villa’s departure, says she was “forced out,” and was even asked by the city to leave her job at Toronto’s public health authority.

“I am in the process of taking leave of absence to take time off for medical reasons,” de Villa wrote in a letter to the office of the mayor and chief commissioner of the Toronto District School Board, where she worked in the public health department. She wrote that the reason she’s taking time off is that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer, having received treatment at the University of Toronto Hospital.

In a subsequent statement, de Villa clarified that she’s taking leave to go on medical leave “until such time as my cancer goes into remission.” She added that she hopes the situation with the Health Ministry will “resolve itself so I can return to work.”

“There are many who are interested in learning of the reasons behind this situation and I would hope that the ongoing investigations can be transparent,” said de Villa in her letter.

When asked about de Villa’s departure, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said she wasn’t aware.

“I don’t have any information about the departure and I haven’t received any information about it, so I don’t have any details to share,” Aglukkaq said in a statement. “I am glad to hear that Dr. de Villa is in good spirits and taking medical leave.”

In response to the issue, the Health Minister’s Office said the ministry learned about de Villa’s leave on July 13, and she was informed of her diagnosis August 9.

“The family informed the ministry of the diagnosis on August 9. The ministry has advised Dr. de Villa of her leave and that she will be going on medical leave until the cancer

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