On Thursday June 9, Mayor Jim Watson presented the Key to the City to Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, as well as another Key to the whole Ottawa Public Health team, in recognition of Dr. Etches’ leadership and the health unit’s exceptional work during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Etches’ calm, clear and thoughtful public leadership not only reassured residents, but also led to Ottawa’s success in controlling outbreaks and achieving high vaccination rates. Dr. Etches credits her dedicated staff at Ottawa Public Health with making these outcomes possible.
Hindia Mohamoud, Director of the Ottawa Local Integration Partnership, and Dr. Etches’ parents, Dr. Duncan Etches and Dr. Nora Etches, each shared memories and remarks about Dr. Etches’ career and character. The Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health, Councillor Keith Egli, provided comments on the work of Ottawa Public Health staff. The Key was accepted by Robyn Muzik, Co-Chair of Ottawa Public Health’s Employee Engagement and Wellness Committee.
The event included a video montage of the team’s work over the past two years, as well as messages from a range of well-wishers, including Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, Dr. Kieran Moore, Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario, actor/comedian Colin Mochrie, actor Ryan Reynolds and Stewart Reynolds (a.k.a. Brittlestar, ‘the Internet’s favourite dad’).
About Dr. Etches
Dr. Vera Etches was appointed Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health in April 2018, having served as Deputy Medical Officer of Health for three years and Associate for five years before that. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa.
Prior to joining Ottawa Public Health, Dr. Etches served as Associate Medical Officer of Health, Acting Medical Officer of Health and Director of Clinical Services for the Sudbury & District Health Unit. In 2005, she completed specialty training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Etches is passionate about preventing illness and injury and working with partners to support people’s wellbeing, with a focus on priority populations. She is committed to public health work addressing inequities in health status stemming from racism and colonialism.
About Ottawa Public Health
The goal of Ottawa Public Health is to keep people healthy, safe and well. Ottawa Public Health works with the community and partner agencies across many sectors on both programs and policies, serving people across their lifespan. The organization’s areas of focus include prenatal, parenting, baby and maternal health, healthy aging, mental and dental health, substance use, nutrition, and injury and disease prevention.
Ottawa Public Health was on the front line of the local pandemic response. It led the largest vaccination campaign in Ottawa’s history, which to date has achieved 92% full vaccination coverage (at least two doses) for the population aged 12 and older.