Focus On

Ford government names new patient ombudsman

Friday, June 12, 2020 @ 12:20 PM | By John Schofield

Longtime health policy analyst Cathy Fooks will be Ontario’s new patient ombudsman beginning July 13, the Ford government announced June 11.

“Cathy Fooks brings over 30 years of experience advocating for change to improve the care Ontarians receive," Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott said in news release. “Having served as Ontario’s first patient ombudsman, I know how this role can directly help people by shining a spotlight on how we can improve the quality of care for all Ontarians. I am confident Ms. Fooks will be a great partner by making sure all voices are heard and concerns are brought to our attention.”

In her role as patient ombudsman, Fooks will provide support for Ontarians who have voiced concerns about their health-care experience. The ombudsman also investigates unresolved complaints about public hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care and makes recommendations to the government to prevent the recurrence of similar issues.

Fooks will also oversee an investigation into the experiences of long-term care home residents during COVID-19. Her work will complement the government's independent commission into Ontario’s long-term care system, which will begin in July 2020.

“I am honoured to be appointed as Ontario’s patient ombudsman,” Fooks said in the news release. “Patient and caregiver voices matter now more than ever and need to continue to be heard. They will help us to make the right changes that need to be done. I am here to ensure that happens, so we can continue to ensure Ontarians receive the quality of care they need and deserve.”

According to news reports, the position comes with a $203,000 annual salary.

Until recently, Fooks was president and CEO of The Change Foundation, an Ontario health-policy think tank, and she previously served as the first executive director of the Health Council of Canada. The term of the patient ombudsman’s appointment will be five years, with the possibility of reappointment for an additional five-year term.