Council recommends Dr. Vera Etches as Ottawa’s next Medical Officer of Health

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As Chair of Ottawa Public Health, I am thrilled and honoured to share that this week, City Council approved recommendation to appoint Dr. Vera Etches as the City’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH). This decision is now to be submitted to the Ontario Ministry of Health where it will hopefully receive its final approval.

This appointment follows the unanimous recommendation from the Board of Health’s selection subcommittee for Dr. Etches’ outstanding performance and record with Ottawa Public Health.

Dr. Etches has served the people of Ottawa since 2009 when she joined OPH as an Associate Medical Officer of Health and most recently as Deputy Medical Officer of Health. She has been serving as Ottawa’s Acting Medical Officer of Health since November 2017, when Dr. Isra Levy announced that he would be leaving Ottawa Public Health (OPH). Her previous experience includes Acting Medical Officer of Health and Associate Medical Officer of Health for the Sudbury & District Health Unit.

She has made significant contributions to improving the health of residents of Ottawa through her work across the full spectrum of public health services. She has been active in health promotion, prevention and protection including infectious diseases and outbreaks, health and disease surveillance, health equity, early child health, and has fostered partnerships with community groups and allied health organizations.

Beyond that, Dr. Etches offers a unique insight and understanding of the inner workings of City Hall, the City of Ottawa as a whole, and the public health challenges that we face. She possesses the experience, strong executive leadership skills, and the academic qualifications to lead Ottawa Public Health into the future. During her time in Ottawa, she has demonstrated that she is the ideal candidate for this position. In particular, I am very pleased with her accomplishments related to work with Indigenous partners to advance health equity.

In my farewell address to Dr. Levy, I said that “Actions speak louder than words”, and I believe that Dr. Etches’ performance in the Acting Medical Officer of Health role speaks volumes in demonstrating just how important strong leadership, effective mentoring, and internal growth are to the success of the Ottawa Public Health and public health initiatives across the City.

I would like to once again thank our outgoing MOH, Dr. Isra Levy for his extensive service to the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health over the last 10 years and welcome Dr. Etches into the role.

I would also like to thank Mayor Watson, my Councillor colleagues, City Manager Steve Kanellakos, and members of Ottawa’s Board of Health for their input on this decision.

Congratulations to Dr. Etches. On behalf of Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa, I look forward to working with you in this new role.