Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2021: Eileen de Villa

Our annual showcase of the city’s most inspiring women who have led by example, achieved against all odds and made this city and this year special.

The People’s Doctor

Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s medical officer of health, has been a voice of reason for the city from the start of the pandemic. During a time when many politicians at all levels of government were slow-going and hesitant, de Villa was decisive and advocated for the safety of Torontonians. She put pressure on the provincial government to lock down and expand testing availability when the city needed it most and this year, she was a driving force behind the Toronto’s vaccination efforts, getting Toronto to an over 85 per cent vaccination rate despite delayed shipments, unclear eligibility instructions and more.

By Joe Cressy | Councillor, Ward 10

The past two years have tested our city like never before. Thankfully, we had a public health leader who was more than up to the challenge.

Throughout the pandemic, Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has guided us every step of the way — from making tough calls to reduce COVID-19 transmission to spearheading the most expansive vaccination program in our city’s history. She has truly been “the people’s doctor.”

As the head of the largest public health unit in Canada, Dr. de Villa has worked day and night — literally — to serve the people of Toronto. In those terrifying first few months of the pandemic, she spoke to the public each day, clearly explaining what was happening in our city and how to take precautions. With her trademark scarves, professionalism and composure, she helped keep us safe.

Throughout her career, Dr. de Villa — who always insists I call her Eileen — has been committed to caring for our most vulnerable. Whether it’s advocating for paid sick leave, supporting supervised consumption sites or dispatching mobile vaccination clinics to hard-hit neighbourhoods, Eileen’s approach is always one that’s equally rooted in scientific evidence and empathy.

I’m proud to have been able to work with her and honoured to call her a friend. Eileen has often said that she thinks of the entire city of Toronto as her patient. At a time when we needed it most, we couldn’t have asked for a more compassionate or committed doctor.

See our full list of Toronto’s most inspiring women of 2021 here. 

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO