Dr. Sheela Basrur honoured as new Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion unveils inaugural CEO

    McGuinty Government Provides Update on Protecting Ontarians Five Years
    After SARS Outbreak

    TORONTO, March 4 /CNW/ - Five years after the SARS outbreak, Ontario has
reached a milestone in the overhaul of emergency health planning with the
appointment of the founding president and CEO of the new Ontario Agency for
Health Protection and Promotion, the province's first ever, arms-length public
health agency.
    Dr. Vivek Goel - currently vice-president and provost at the University
of Toronto - will head the new agency, which is modeled on the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention.
    Located at MaRS, the office will be named the Sheela Basrur Centre after
the former Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health and Medical Officer of
Health for the City of Toronto during the SARS outbreak.


    "The legacy of the 44 Canadians who lost their lives to SARS lives in
this new agency," said Health and Long-Term Care Minister George Smitherman.
"We are determined to make Ontario a world-leader in emergency health planning
and in public health to make sure that we are prepared for an outbreak like
    "Dr. Vivek Goel is one of the most respected health care researchers and
population health scientists in the province," said Dr. David Walker, board
chair of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion. "His
extensive experience in health care evaluation and research, his
administrative skills and training and above all his passion for the future of
this new agency make him an ideal choice to head up the new agency."

      -  Ontario has the integrated Public Health Information System (iPHIS),
         an advanced infectious disease surveillance system. This gives early
         warning signals to 36 public health units, which assist them in
         managing disease outbreaks through collection, transmission and
         analysis of data.
      -  In accordance with the "Precautionary Principle," Ontario is
         stockpiling up to 55 million specially designed N95 respirators to
         provide a higher level of respiratory protection for the wearer
         compared to surgical masks, this means safety first and foremost for
         Ontario's health care workers.
      -  The government gave the Chief Medical Officer of Health more
         independent powers to take action to prevent, reduce or eliminate
         health risks.
      -  The government developed the Ontario Health Plan for an Influenza
         Pandemic (OHPIP) which is updated annually, in partnership with
         health care experts.
      -  Ontario is unveiling a comprehensive hand hygiene program - Just
         Clean Your Hands - for health care workers at all hospitals that
         gets underway tomorrow.


    Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion

    What you should know about a flu pandemic



    After the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Ontario government listened to
reports from Dr. David Naylor, Dr. David Walker and Justice Archie Campbell.
It created Operation Health Protection, an action plan to revitalize our
public health system by preventing threats to our health and promoting good
    The creation of the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion,
its new leadership and its location at MaRS are the latest components to be
    Operation Health Protection includes:

    -  Creating the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion
    -  Moving forward with public health renewal
    -  Enhancing health emergency management
    -  Improving infection control and communicable disease capacity
    -  Strengthening public health human resources
    -  Building the infrastructure for health preparedness

    Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion, created to:

    -  Provide scientific and technical advice and support to those working
       across the various health care sectors to protect and improve the
       health of Ontarians
    -  Carry out and support activities such as population health assessment,
       public health research, surveillance, epidemiology, planning and
    -  Operate laboratory services and provide scientific guidance on
       infectious diseases, health promotion, chronic disease, injury
       prevention, environmental health and emergency management

    Public Health Renewal, is being achieved by:

    -  Providing the Chief Medical Officer of Health with more independent
       powers to take action to prevent, reduce or eliminate health risks
    -  Since 2003, funding has increased by more than 90%, including both
       upload and increased investments in public health capacity.
    -  Making improvements in public health emergency response by giving
       local medical officers of health more power to respond to outbreaks
    -  Allowing the provincial government to take over distribution and
       redistribution of medical supplies (including antitoxins, antivirals,
       antibiotics) in case of health emergencies
    -  Increasing Ontario's share of local public health unit funding to
       75 per cent from 50 per cent
    -  Reviewing and updating mandatory programs and services delivered by
       public health units

    Enhancing Health Emergency Management by:

      -  Having established the Emergency Management Unit (EMU) to lead
         health emergency management for the health sector
      -  Having the EMU be responsible for coordinating actions of the
         Ministry for Health and Long-Term Care, distributing supplies and
         equipment, and providing guidance and direction to optimize the
         health system response during health emergencies
      -  Having the EMU involved in pandemic preparedness, including regular
         updating of the Ontario Health Plan for Influenza Pandemic
      -  Stockpiling of 55 million N95 respirators for health workers in
         close contact with patients during a flu epidemic
      -  Having established a 56-bed mobile acute care field hospital
      -  Stockpiling antivirals to treat approximately 25 per cent of the
         population in case of an influenza pandemic.

    Improving Infection Control and Communicable Disease Capacity by:

    -  Creating the Provincial Infectious Disease Advisory Committee to
       develop guidelines for health professionals and organizations to best
       manage infectious disease outbreaks
    -  Hiring 10 new medical and scientific staff that has been recruited
       nationally and internationally to the Ontario Public Health
       Laboratories lead by Dr. Donald Low
    -  Ontario is unveiling a comprehensive hand hygiene program - Just Clean
       Your Hands - for all hospitals that gets underway this week
    -  Establishing 14 Regional Infection Control Networks to coordinate
       activities related to the prevention, surveillance and control of
       infectious diseases
    -  Funding 137 hospital infection prevention and control practitioners to
       prevent and control infectious diseases

    Strengthening Public Health Human Resources by:

      -  Having developed and implemented HealthForceOntario, a health human
         resources strategy that is attracting, retaining and developing the
         best health care providers - including the top public health
         professionals such as new nurses with the province's Nursing Grad

    Building Infrastructure for Health System Preparedness by:

    -  Creating and implementing the integrated Public Health Information
       System that allows local public health units to identify and track
       cases of infectious disease.
    -  Ontario has iPHIS - an advanced infectious disease surveillance system
       - which gives early warning signals and helps to manage disease
    -  Piloting new surveillance methods to detect public health threats
       before an emerging contagious disease is fully diagnosed
    -  Planning to implement Panorama, a new pan-Canadian surveillance system
       which will enable health care providers to immediately collect, share
       and analyze health information that is critical for emerging and
       ongoing threats to public health, in 2011
    -  Purchasing N95 respirators based on the "Precautionary Principle",
       which means Ontario has created a gold standard of protection for
       frontline health care staff

    For more details on these six Operation Health Protection initiatives,
please check.


                         DR. VIVEK GOEL'S BIOGRAPHY

    Dr. Vivek Goel is currently vice-president and provost at the University
of Toronto where he is also a professor in the Departments of Health Policy,
Management and Evaluation and Public Health Sciences.
    He is also adjunct senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical
Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and Program in eHealth Innovation at University
Health Network. He was president of the Central East Health Information
Partnership, an Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care funded health
intelligence unit. From 1999 to 2002 he was the scientific program leader at
the Health Evidence Applications Linkages Network (HEALNet), a federal network
of centres of excellence.
    Dr. Goel is a licensed physician and Fellow of the Royal College of
Physicians of Canada, having obtained his medical degree from McGill
University. He did his post-graduate medical training in community medicine at
the University of Toronto and also obtained a master's degree (M.Sc.) in
Health Administration from the University of Toronto and a master's degree
(S.M.) in Biostatistics from Harvard University's School of Public Health.
    In 1991, he joined the University of Toronto as an assistant professor in
the Department of Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics. Dr. Goel served as
chair of the Department of Health Administration in the Faculty of Medicine
from 1999 until 2001.
    Dr. Goel has been engaged in a broad range of research activities related
to public health, particularly focusing on chronic disease prevention and
control. These research activities include the economic evaluation of health
care interventions, optimization of the use of laboratory tests in the
periodic health examination and the development of measures for health status
    He was engaged in the conception of the ICES practice patterns 'Atlas'
series, the creation of innovative methods for informing frontline health
providers about the results of health research, and in training and
supervising numerous graduate and professional students. He has served on
numerous local, provincial and federal committees related to public health as
well as being involved in international activities through the Pan-American
Health Organization (PAHO).
    In his roles at the University of Toronto he has been engaged in many
areas including academic, budget and space planning, academic human resources,
information technology services and emergency response - including leading the
university's efforts in managing SARS.


    Disponible en français

For further information:

For further information: Laurel Ostfield, Minister's Office, (416)
212-4048; Andrew Morrison, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, (416)

Organization Profile

Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890