She who cures all: Q&A with Dhun Noria
For over 30 years as a doctor, Dhun Noria has battled disease. As the newest citizen member of the police board, she’s turning her attention to fighting crime
You’re the chief of laboratory medicine at the Scarborough Hospital. What do you do, exactly?
Almost every patient who comes into our hospital has an encounter with the lab. Eighty per cent of treatment decisions are made on the basis of lab tests. My specialty is cancer diagnosis.
You studied at U of T?
Yes. I came to Canada from Hyderabad, India, in 1968 to do my fellowship in anatomic pathology.
And you raised a family here, too.
My husband, Farokh, studied nuclear physics but now makes fashion jewellery. We have a manufacturing plant in India, and my son, Zubin, helps with the business. My daughter, Sabrena, is a surgeon in Columbus, Ohio.
How did you end up on the police board?
I was approached by the Public Appointments Secretariat, which recruits board members for the province. I also had the option of sitting on a board about climate change, but the Police Services Board wants Toronto to be safe and healthy, and those are also my core values. And I get to do something different than medicine.
Who did you vote for in the last municipal election?
Isn’t voting confidential?
It is, but you have a public profile now, so we hoped you would share.
I have worked with all three parties in the past. Whom I vote for is inconsequential, since I have no political aspirations.
What did you think of the request for a police budget increase when crime in Toronto has gone down 10 per cent in the past decade?
It would be nice to trim without compromising safety. But Chief Bill Blair wasn’t asking for any new officers. The request was to cover salary commitments from previous negotiations. I think we have to realize crime is going down because we have an effective police system. For example, police presence has reduced the crime rates just south of my hospital.
What neighbourhood is that?
Birchmount and Finch—Glendower. It’s a high-crime area. We get a lot of patients in the emergency with gunshot wounds.
Were you here during the G20 weekend?
How did you react to some of the stories about police brutality, and seeing some of those images on television?
The authority, the transparency, the communication with the people was not as effective as it should be. But Justice John Morden is leading a review of police actions during the G20, and it would be premature to judge the outcome. One thing I can assure you is that the new Toronto police services board would like to be open and transparent. That is my own commitment, also.
You’re a member of the Zoroastrian Society. Can you tell me about your faith?
We follow the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster. The basic tenets of our religion are simple: Good thoughts. Good words. Good deeds. Whatever I do, I try to do it with these tenets. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you don’t.
Where do you live and what do you do for fun?
I live in North York. I love to garden. I love to do big-game fishing. My family has gone all over the world, including the Arctic Circle. I am also interested in skeet shooting. My passions are quite eclectic.
You’re also a regular at various galas and fundraisers. You lead a full life.
I’ve been afflicted with breast cancer twice, and it has made me all the more determined to give my very best. It’s made me more compassionate. I could easily be in sunny Florida for six months of the year, but I have chosen this work.