News Release
March 12, 2020

The City of Toronto today announced the next phase in its ongoing management of COVID-19.

With the City of Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, continuing to lead the public health efforts to mitigate the virus’s impact on the city, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, in his role as General Manager of the Office of Emergency Management, will lead the City of Toronto’s operational planning and response to this global pandemic.

While the public health response to COVID-19 under Dr. de Villa’s leadership has been underway since January when COVID-19 was first identified, the implementation of the City-wide COVID-19 task force is the next phase in pandemic and response planning activities.

Currently, the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is at a Level One activation, which involves monitoring the current situation, locally and globally, and coordinating internal efforts at the City to ensure it continues to meet the needs of residents and businesses should the activation level change. Non-essential activities within the EOC have been suspended in order to prioritize the support of the COVID-19 task force.

The COVID-19 task force comprises key managers from all City divisions and agencies and are now situated at the EOC, planning for various responses, including:
– the potential for increased staff absenteeism due to illness and the impact on the City’s ability to deliver core services
– global supply chain challenges for personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves for frontline workers and first responders
– actions undertaken to protect vulnerable populations, such as those experiencing homelessness or in City-run long-term care homes
– developing, sharing and continually updating critical information for residents and visitors to the city
– forecasting and responding to economic impacts the pandemic may have on residents and businesses.

Chief Pegg will report to the City’s Senior Leadership Team, under City Manager Chris Murray, and work directly with the City’s Corporate Leadership Team, made up of division heads, as well as the heads of City agencies to ensure ongoing co-ordination.

The City will continually update its website at with public information, use social media, translate information, and work with elected officials to ensure they and their constituents are kept well-informed. In addition, the 35,000-strong public service will also be kept informed through all channels available for staff communications.

Media Availability: Dr. Eileen de Villa, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, Mayor John Tory and Councillor Joe Cressy will be available to media this afternoon at 2 p.m., City Hall Members’ Lounge.

The news conference will be streamed live and saved to the City of Toronto YouTube channel, available at


“I want to thank Chief Matthew Pegg for accepting this assignment to lead the City’s ongoing planning and response to COVID-19 and I want to recognize the tireless work that Dr. Eileen de Villa is continuing to do leading our public health response. We are making sure all City departments and services and all City agencies are working together to respond to this pandemic and to protect the health of Toronto residents. I will continue to ensure that our municipal government works effectively with the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada to provide a coordinated response that protects residents and businesses and that we are united in addressing any economic implications.”
– Mayor John Tory

“Since our experience with SARS in 2003, the City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health have developed detailed systems to respond to a pandemic. Two months of non-stop City preparations and scenario planning have put us in a situation where the City of Toronto is ready. Under the leadership of Dr. de Villa and Chief Pegg, we will protect the health and well-being of Torontonians.”
– Joe Cressy, City Councillor and Chair of the Board of Health

“My team is carefully monitoring this evolving situation and we continue to expand our public health operations to plan for local spread, which we expect will eventually occur.  We all have a role to play in managing this situation and delaying community spread as long as possible.  This is why I continue to remind Toronto residents to practice vigilant hand washing and other preventive measures as these are important ways for you to do your part in delaying the onset of community spread of COVID-19.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health

“The City of Toronto continually prepares for, and responds to, emergencies like natural disasters, fires, weather events or pandemics. Together with my colleague, Dr. de Villa and the entire Toronto Public Service, Torontonians can have confidence that the City is coordinated and responding proactively to the ever-changing circumstances of COVID-19. It is what we do.”
– Matthew Pegg, Toronto Chief Pegg and General Manager, Office of Emergency Management

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