Toronto Public Health asks for leadership in COVID-19 pandemic

Toronto Public Health vice-chair questions city’s COVID-19 policy

TORONTO — Toronto Public Health (TPH) is asking that the City of Toronto address its lack of leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to City Manager Peter Wallace, TPH vice-chair Bruce Gagnon said the agency’s response to COVID-19 has been “very disappointing,” and that the City of Toronto is acting as though the public “have no role in the management of this crisis.”

“We can only assume that the ‘city’s’ role in providing health resources has been delegated to the Toronto Public Health Department, since the number of people in our city requiring health services is increasing,” he wrote.

In the letter, which Gagnon submitted yesterday, Gagnon is seeking a formal response within two days to a complaint he and other officials at TPH first lodged at the end of March.

In the letter, Gagnon — who has been a public health specialist since 1972, has held a number of senior public health jobs in the public and private sectors, and who has served as chair of the public health committee in the mayor’s executive cabinet — expressed frustration with the lack of preparedness in the health system and the lack of leadership in Toronto.

Gagnon said he sees no other way of addressing the lack of leadership than to come before the city’s executive committee with a motion calling on the city to adopt an executive order mandating that the public health authority lead in pandemic planning and response. If adopted by the executive committee, the motion would then need to come before the full council for consideration.

“As we approach the 50th day since the first cases of COVID-19 in Toronto were confirmed, there is no evidence of a concerted and unified effort by the city to deal with this public health emergency, and a lack of leadership by the city to address the concerns of the public,” Gagnon wrote.

Gagnon said he is writing to Wallace “to ask for a meeting with you to discuss the lack of preparedness in our public health system to address the COVID-19 pandemic and for a formal request for leadership from the city to take

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