Hamilton’s leader on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be stepping down to take a job in Toronto after Labor Day.
Paul Johnson, who ran the city’s emergency operations center, was hired as an assistant city manager overseeing community and social services in Toronto.
“A big loss for the city,” Hamilton City Manager Janette Smith said during a video conference with The Spectator on Wednesday.
“I am very excited for him. He did an incredible job during the pandemic. “
Johnson is also the Executive Director of Hamilton’s Healthy and Safe Communities Department, which includes a broad portfolio of services including public health, paramedics, firefighters, long-term care, housing, homelessness and child care.
His new job in Toronto will reunite him with former city manager Chris Murray, who held the same position in the larger city before Smith rose to Hamilton’s top municipal office.
Johnson’s impending departure after more than 10 years with the city comes as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decline during the ongoing vaccination rollout in Hamilton, but still uncertain of the more transmissible Delta variant .
Smith noted that she and Jason Thorne, the city’s general manager of planning and economic development, are Johnson’s replacement to lead the emergency operations center.
“Things open up after Labor Day, but I’m very careful with the Delta variant,” Smith said. “We always have to be prepared to potentially ramp things up again, if we see an increase. Hopefully not. “
In anticipation of Johnson’s departure, Smith said she was working on a transition plan and recruiting process to find candidates to replace him.
Johnson ran the Wesley Urban Ministries social service agency before joining the city about 10 years ago.
He was in charge of the priority neighborhoods file of the city then the LRT before becoming the general manager of healthy and safe communities, in which public health was integrated.
More soon …