The Sun’s Editor in Chief Criticizes Public Health Officer for Not Responding to 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’ On April 5, Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair, Rebecca Blenkinsop, appeared on the Sun. She…

The Sun’s Editor in Chief Criticizes Public Health Officer for Not Responding to 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’

On April 5, Toronto Public Health’s vice-chair, Rebecca Blenkinsop, appeared on the Sun. She took the opportunity to speak about COVID-19 and to highlight the province’s role in coordinating the pandemic’s response. But she wasn’t allowed to talk about it any further, as she came under criticism from Sun readers for her opinion, and then by the Sun itself for the way it reported on the coverage of the column.

Since April, the only mention of the issue in any of Blenkinsop’s editorials or columns has been to draw a parallel with the ongoing controversy around the federal government’s national emergency declaration.

On April 27, Blenkinsop addressed the Sun’s editor in chief, Dave Hill, and responded to the controversy.

“There is no room here to question my qualifications as an epidemiologist,” she wrote. “I have never made any allegations outside of the scientific information that I have published in peer-reviewed journals.”

Blenkinsop’s column ran in the Sun on Sunday, April 13, just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared an emergency in Ontario while he was in Toronto for a provincial leadership debate. Her column was published the day before Trudeau announced the emergency declaration, saying the government would be creating an independent public health agency to coordinate efforts to protect Ontarians and the public from COVID-19.

The public health officer was responding to a Sun editorial, which had written that while Blenkinsop had been “the first public health official in Canada to sound the alarm about the novel coronavirus,” she still did not have “anything close to a full-blown pandemic.”

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