Learn more about the health leaders who have served as Patient Ombudsman and how they championed for fairness in Ontario’s healthcare system.
Patient Ombudsman (June 2020 - December 2020)
Cathy Fooks was appointed as Ontario’s second Patient Ombudsman in June of 2020. In only seven months as Patient Ombudsman, she led the office during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. A crucial time for the office, where complaints from long-term care homes had increased close to 300%.
Ms. Fooks’ passion for patients and caregivers and her clarity of vision was apparent during her brief tenure as Patient Ombudsman. Early into her appointment, she issued a special report on COVID-19 complaints and made formal recommendations to the healthcare system. In addition, she forged a framework for the office’s systemic investigation into COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care homes.
Cathy Fooks’ tenure as Patient Ombudsman was cut short due to her tragic death in late 2020.
Prior to becoming Patient Ombudsman, Cathy Fooks was the President and CEO of The Change Foundation. In 2018, she was a special advisor to the Ontario Ministry of Health to assist with the setup of the Ontario Caregiver Organization.
Before leading the Change Foundation, Cathy Fooks was the founding Executive Director of the Health Council of Canada where she was responsible for implementing the Council’s mandate of reporting to Canadians about health care renewal. She held other executive positions with the Canadian Policy Research Networks, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. She worked for the Premier’s Council on Health, Wellbeing and Social Justice and for two former Ministers of Health.
Ms. Fooks held degrees in political science and economics from Trent University, (B.A.), and Queen’s University, (M.A.). She also completed the Executive Program in Strategic Perspectives for Non-Profit Management at Harvard Business School.
She held board positions with The Michener Institute, and the Toronto Regional Geriatric Program and the Board Chair of HDRN, a federally funded data and research network.
Cathy Fooks is recognized as a distinguished alumnus by Trent University for her contributions to Ontario’s health system.
Patient Ombudsman (2015 - 2018)
Christine Elliott was Ontario’s first Patient Ombudsman appointed in December of 2015.
As Patient Ombudsman, Ms. Elliott oversaw the establishment of the office. Ms. Elliott led varied public consultations, travelled extensively throughout the province to listen to the concerns of patients and their loved ones, and presented the first Patient Ombudsman report to the government of Ontario.
Ms. Elliott has been an advocate for vulnerable people for many years and has served as a volunteer with many community organizations, including the Grandview Children’s Centre and Durham Mental Health Services, which named one of their homes in her honour. She has also served on the board of directors of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Elliott is the co-founder and a director of the Abilities Centre, a sports, recreation and arts facility for people of all abilities located in Whitby.
Christine Elliott is a graduate of Western University Law School and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1980. She practised law as a partner with Flaherty Dow Elliott & McCarthy until 2006, after her election as the MPP for Whitby-Ajax. She was subsequently re-elected as the MPP for Whitby-Oshawa in 2007, 2011 and 2014. During her years at Queen’s Park Ms. Elliott brought forward two private member’s bills, which resulted in Select Committees on Mental Health and Addictions and on Developmental Services.
In 2018 Christine Elliott, stepped down as Patient Ombudsman to resume her career as an elected official. She currently serves the province of Ontario as the Deputy Premier of Ontario, the Minister of Health, and is the Member of Provincial Parliament for Newmarket-Aurora.