Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto’s public health chief, taking leave of absence for medical treatment, had to return in December after doctors found she had cancer. When she returned to work in January, it was to complete a 30-year career that saw her rise to a top role in Toronto’s public health department.
But in the runup to Christmas, it was clear something had happened to Dr. De Villa.
She was a well liked and admired leader whose work was often referenced in news reports. In fact, the Toronto Public Health Board, by which Dr. De Villa had served, released a photo of her with the quote, “A very effective public health department.”
But on a Friday morning, Dr. De Villa, who had been on medical leave since March, was not at the board’s office. Her office door was shut. Her phone showed no incoming calls.
She was found dead in her home in Etobicoke on Dec. 24, just after 7 o’clock in the morning. An autopsy was performed the following day, and the results were back on the same Friday, Dec. 31, with police still investigating.
The cause of death was listed as “multiple drug toxicity.”
The only explanation available is that, while she was away, someone had poisoned her. The police investigation has been hampered since the police closed the case less than two days after Dr. De Villa’s death.
In recent months, the investigation has become a national tragedy, pitting the public health system against the city of Toronto and the federal government, which had no knowledge of the matter.
But this story, and the controversy it has provoked, has unfolded as the result of a series of decisions made by a Toronto police officer who is now being tried for his crimes in court, and with the assistance of a public health inspector who was once appointed to lead her office in the wake of Dr. De Villa’s death.
The timeline has been altered by the police who have told the public that the story they told in March and April was untrue, and were trying to cover up their role in the investigation.
But the chronology in the police file indicates