Dr. Peter Jüni to resign from Ontario’s science table, plans to take research job at Oxford

The epidemiologist who has served as one of the key voices on Ontario’s Science Advisory Table throughout most of the COVID-19 pandemic is resigning from the post in order to take a research job overseas.

Dr. Peter Jüni, who is the scientific director of the group of volunteer epidemiologists and researchers responsible for advising the Ford government on its pandemic policy, has accepted a position at Oxford University which he will assume July 1.

He will continue his work with the Ontario Science Advisory Table in the interim, but he tells CP24 that he plans to step aside by the late spring.

Jüni has lead the science table since its formation in July, 2020.

“It is probably what is the logical next step and it feels right, even though I can be honest I’m quite emotional and I will be heartbroken to leave,” he said during an interview on Friday afternoon.

The Swiss-born Jüni became a frequent media commentator during the COVID-19 pandemic, appearing frequently on CP24 and other networks to discuss the latest developments and to offer insight on the path the province was on.

He also, on occasion, found himself at odds with the Ford government, particularly over its decision to close playgrounds and other recreational amenities last spring.

He also spoke out about the need for paid sick days for months, prior to the province agreeing to fund three paid sick days per employee last year.

Speaking with CP24 on Friday, Jüni said that his decision to leave now is mostly being driven by a desire to be closer to family, including two adult children living in Switzerland.

But he said that he will always be “tremendously grateful” for the seven years he spent living and working in Toronto.

News of his departure comes ahead of the province lifting the mask mandate for most settings on Monday. The Ontario government has also indicated that it will move all remaining COVID-19 restrictions by the end of April.

And on Friday Health Minister Christine Elliott announced that she will no longer be sharing daily updates about COVID-19 cases via Twitter, though the province will continue to post the data online.

“It is not over. It’s getting much better to face changes because we continue to build up more immunity. But we will probably need a few more seasons before we could really call this endemic,” Jüni warned on Friday.

In a message posted to Twitter on Friday afternoon, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath thanked Jüni for playing “a vital role in keeping Ontarians safe and healthy” during the pandemic as well as “helping us understand this terrible virus.”

Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca also thanked Jüni for helping guide Ontario through “one of the most challenging periods” in its history in a separate post.

“Dr. Jüni’s dedication to public health helped keep millions of Ontarians safe, and I wish him all the best,” he said.

Jüni is currently employed as the director of the Applied Health Research Center at St. Michael’s Hospital.

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