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June 2, 2008
Dr. Sheela Basrur, former Medical Officer of Health, 1956 - 2008
Mayor David Miller today extended condolences to the family and friends of former Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sheela Basrur and expressed gratitude for her commitment to the health of the residents of Toronto.

“We have lost an extraordinary Torontonian, a woman whose incredible wisdom and boundless compassion helped guide our city through some of its difficult periods in recent history,” said Toronto Mayor David Miller.

“When SARS struck in 2003, the leadership of Sheela Basrur - our then Medical Officer of Health - calmed an anxious city by counselling residents to confront the outbreak with knowledge instead of fear. It was the ever-courageous Dr. Basrur who stepped forward to become both Toronto’s face and its voice to a worried world.”

“On behalf of City Council and all Torontonians, I want to express my deepest condolences to Sheela’s family, friends and everyone who was touched by her remarkable life.”

Dr. Basrur was the first Medical Officer of Health for the newly amalgamated City of Toronto, appointed in 1998. Prior to amalgamation, she served for six years as Medical Officer of Health in East York. Dr. Basrur was appointed as Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in 2004 and resigned from her duties in 2006 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

“We are grateful to have had a leader like Dr. Basrur. Not only was she committed to making Toronto a healthy city for everyone, she was a dedicated leader who inspired her staff to be the best they could be,” said Shirley Hoy, City Manager for Toronto.

As Medical Officer of Health for Toronto, Dr. Basrur led several ground-breaking initiatives, including DineSafe, a program that gave the public access to restaurant inspection results. Dr. Basrur also led the development and implementation of Toronto’s no smoking bylaw, and the bylaw against non-essential pesticide use.

“Dr. Basrur was an outstanding leader in the field of public health,” said Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto. “She exemplified the highest standards of professional achievement in everything she did, and she personified the attributes of hard work, good humour and selfless dedication. We will all miss her.”

Memorial services for Dr. Basrur are being planned by her family.

Media contact:
Susan Sperling, Media Relations Co-ordinator, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974,



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