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'I can take it:' Ottawa top doctor receiving 'ugly emails'

Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches says she has been receiving what she describes as "ugly emails" during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2020-09-03 Dr. Vera Etches Ottawa Chief Medical Officer of Health CK1
Ottawa Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches, September 3, 2020. Chris Kurys/

OTTAWA — Ottawa's top doctor says she has received some "ugly emails" during the COVID-19 pandemic, but isn't letting them distract her from her job.

"I take in that information and I think about how we can better support people with our social services, with economic recovery," said Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa's medical officer of health (you may remember Etches from her time as associate medical officer of health with the Sudbury and District Health Unit). "I'm focused on trying to make sure we manage through this pandemic so people can get back on their feet." 

Etches says she hasn't received any death threats and doesn't think she is in any danger. "Of course people are frustrated. People have been harmed by losing their jobs, losing their businesses. Those are not small impacts, it's very serious." 

She said she recognizes that everyone is suffering from the pandemic. "I know that this is a stressful time and people are angry, and I appreciate that. They're looking for someone to blame or to express that anger and I think it's important to hear from people who are negatively impacted. 

Etches' comments come after British Columbia's top doctor said she's been receiving death threats and abusive letters in her role as a public figure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bonnie Henry told a panel discussion at the annual convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities that she's had to have security in her home and has been targeted by people who don't agree with her.

- with files from the Canadian Press