VICTORIA -- British Columbia's top doctor says she's been the victim of death threats after taking on the role as the public face of the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says she's had to have security in her home and has been targeted with death threats, along with abusive letters and phone calls to staff.

Victoria police confirmed to CTV News they were made aware of threats against Henry "over the course of the pandemic," but said the provincial government's security branch handles all such security-related matters.

"We become a target," Henry told a virtual gathering of the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities meeting Tuesday.

"I've got a lot of very positive responses but there are many people who don’t like what I do or don’t like the way I say it or don’t like my shoes," Henry said.

"And [they] feel quite able to send me nasty notes, to leave phone calls, to harass my office staff," she added. "I've had to have security in my house, I've had death threats."

She says she believes it's partly due to her status as a woman in a high-profile position, and that people feel comfortable targeting her in ways they would not necessarily do to male leaders.

Henry has become a national figure during her time leading B.C.'s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with shoe designer John Fluevog naming a pair of shoes after her.

Her comments came during a panel presentation on leadership during the pandemic alongside Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin and former Tsawwassen chief Kim Baird.

Henry says it's important to discuss these issues when trying to mentor the next generation of leaders.

With files from The Canadian Press