TFPH Chair’s response to Sun column on COVID-19

Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair responds to backlash over Sun column about COVID-19, says her only aim was to ‘promote discourse’

The public health department chair of Toronto Public Health is facing a growing backlash to a column she wrote on March 16.

A Sun News column by Lisa MacLeod titled “How to keep COVID-19 safe in Ontario homes” discusses the importance of social distancing, but does not mention the coronavirus.

It does urge people to wash their hands frequently, however, and to practise hand-washing. And it also cautions against touching eyes, nose and mouth, as these items could contain mucus and other body secretions.

I wrote to MacLeod on Thursday, sharing the Sun column and asking what her views are on the pandemic and health care options after the pandemic passes.

On Friday, she replied: “In the interest of promoting discourse, I’ve shared your response.

“My only aim was to promote dialogue and conversation. I am thankful to you for bringing this issue to our attention.”

TFPH’s chair of public health, Dr. David Williams, who wrote the letter to MacLeod, did not respond to questions sent to her. However, in his letter to TFPH members outlining the TFPH agenda for the spring, he references the Sun column.

“We will also be releasing information on our COVID19 action plan later this month,” he writes.

But she added in her response that she doesn’t think TFPH “should be seen as an expert on the health effects of the coronavirus or COVID-19.”

She said it is the role of public health to encourage and spread awareness.

“I stand by the points I made in the Sun piece: ‘We must do everything, in every way possible, to keep the coronavirus safe at home,’” she wrote. “These are important points, and to make them we will need to talk with experts.”

An expert?

The Sun column appears to be in reaction to the federal government

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