Public Health Vice-Chair Jennifer Young Responds to Online Comment

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 vice-chair Jennifer Young has come under fire after responding to an online comment that accused her of being “an agent of the tobacco industry,” but maintained that her only aim was to “promote discourse.”

In an open letter posted to Facebook on Sunday, January 8, Young posted a reply to a commenter who had accused her of being an agent of a tobacco company.

In reference to comments made on Twitter by the reporter and physician-turned-journalist Dr. Andrew Freedman, who has been critical of public health officials for their response to COVID-19, Young said she had “drafted” the letter and decided to share it online without comment.

“Your comment has sparked so much anger on social media that I thought I would share this letter in our own words,” she wrote. “I am writing this to you because this is a forum where we can share facts, information & educate our community about how public health & health care can work together to reduce disease.”

“We have a mission to reduce disease,” she continued. “We don’t do it by ‘not doing something,’ we do it by ‘doing something.’”

She continued to say she is “not interested in being ‘on the side of’ any entity who might seek to do harm.”

“I am a public health professional who has worked with other public health professionals for many decades,” she wrote. “The time has come to promote dialogue rather than divide.”

“I am simply offering our public health experts the opportunity to speak out about the science, the facts & the options that need to be discussed. I have no idea if you agree with my position,” she added. “I will leave the decision up to you.”

“It is up to me to represent Toronto Public Health on our Board of Directors &

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