Dr. Nili Kaplan-Myrth, a family physician for Ottawa’s “Jabapalooza,” says she is running to be a trustee of the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board.
Kaplan-Myrth has been an outspoken critic of public health policies that removed mandatory mask wearing in the spring just as Ontario was entering the seventh wave of COVID-19 infections pushed by Omicron. She and she pushed for the province to expand its vaccination program to school children and speed up the launch of fourth-dose boosters for adults.
“Do any school zones in Ottawa want a family doctor as an OCDSB trustee?” Kaplan-Myrth tweeted on Sunday.
Kaplan-Myrth said Monday that people have asked her to run for city council, but that would be impossible to do and would keep her medical practice open. But school administrator is not a full-time job.
“I have been a delegation to the school board and I have been very frustrated with the lack of understanding around the table of the current health issues of our population,” she said. That included “shocking” school board meetings with “blatantly anti-vaccine, anti-mask” statements that Kaplan-Myrth described as “abhorrent.”
But his interest in schools and health goes beyond COVID-19 policies, he said.
Kaplan-Myrth has three children, ages 22, 18 and 13, who have come through the school system. “And as a doctor, I am constantly advocating for my patients who have children in school,” she said.
“All the people who have no one to defend them. They are the most vulnerable, whether they live in poverty or have disabilities or have exceptionalities and learning disabilities, those are the families that we have to advocate for,” he said.
“And we need to make sure there are voices that don’t debate the validity of the science.”
Kaplan-Myrth lives in Zone 9, which weaves south through downtown from Vanier, Centretown, Glebe and Old Ottawa South. Area 9 is currently held by Lyra Evans, who ran unsuccessfully as the NDP candidate in Ottawa-Vanier in the provincial elections in June. Evans is running in District 6 this time.
Kaplan-Myrth was open to considering running in any district, but said “the location that makes the most sense, and where I live and work, is Zone 9.”
A graduate of the University of Ottawa Medical School, Kaplan-Myrth is a Toronto native and earned a Commonwealth Scholarship to University College London and a Fulbright Scholarship for his Ph.D. at Yale, where he wrote his thesis on self-determination and indigenous health.
Last September, Kaplan-Myrth co-hosted a “Safety Palooza” in Queen’s Park, bringing together parents, nurses, doctors and opposition politicians to lobby the provincial government for better protection for students returning home. schoolincluding vaccination passports.
His candor has come at a cost. He has been the target of anti-Semitic death threats, including a threat sent to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Candidates have until 2 pm Friday to register to run in the October 24 municipal and school board elections. Kaplan-Myrth said she emailed the elections office to schedule an appointment to officially register as a candidate.