The Public is Taking a Stand

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

Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair is responding publicly to the “disgusting” comments about her from social media, as well as the reactions of community members. In an open letter to Toronto community members published today, Jane Housakos shares her thoughts on the controversy.

The “disturbing” comments about my work and my personal life from a Facebook post

I was appalled when I read the comments of a member who had posted an article about the COVID-19 outbreak on a Facebook page on which she had been a member for years. The comments contained personal attacks, threats and hate speech.

This member of the public who did this is a lifelong community member and has been an avid supporter of public health since her youth. Despite the hate and threats she has received since, she has remained a supportive member of the group for over a decade. In fact, it has taken some time for me to get a real sense of how badly things have been distorted and how deeply concerned this person is that Toronto Public Health is now under attack.

I am heartened that the community is taking a stand.

I have been working as a researcher and educator, not as an agent of public health. My only aim is to promote the health of the public, to advance the public dialogue on public health and to support the public health workforce. My intention was never to become a target for those who feel powerless, but rather to promote the value of public health, to share the important work of public health and to support those working on public health issues.

I am grateful that people have been able to take a stand in solidarity. As a public health professional who is committed to public health, I cannot condone this kind of vile behaviour at a time when we are struggling to make sure everyone has a quality

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