Liberal Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre. She is currently Chair of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. She is the longest-serving female MP in Canadian history.
The Honourable Hedy Fry was first elected to Parliament for Vancouver Centre in 1993, becoming the first rookie to defeat a sitting Prime Minister. She has been re-elected in 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, and 2015. She is now the longest-serving female Member of Parliament in Canadian history.
Hedy Fry was born in Trinidad and Tobago where she graduated as class Valedictorian, winning a full scholarship for a Masters degree in English Literature at Oxford, England. She had done her undergraduate in French, English and Spanish literature, though her passion turned to medicine and she relinquished the scholarship to study medicine in Dublin, Ireland. Accepted into the program, she had one year to fulfill the academic requirements, which meant an intensive immersion in science from high school level to the equivalent of a Bachelor of Science in a single academic year. She completed her degree in Medicine with Honours at the Royal College of Surgeons.
She immigrated to Canada in 1970. She practiced family medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital in the West End of Vancouver for two decades and was a local, provincial and national leader in medical politics. She served as president of the Vancouver Medical Association (VMA), BC Medical Association (BCMA), and the Federation of Medical Women, during which time she was hailed as a powerful and successful negotiator. She hammered out a deal with then-premier Bill Vander Zalm that ended with a groundbreaking agreement that included Canada’s first retirement plan for doctors. Further, Dr. Fry led the CMA to recognize self-governance of aboriginals as crucial determinants of Aboriginal health. She was a spokesman for the CMA on issues of health, health financing and reforms, frequently speaking to US audiences about Medicare. Prior to being elected to Parliament, Dr. Fry was well-known to Canadian audiences as a panellist on the long-running national CBC television program Doctor, Doctor.
Dr. Fry began in 1993 as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health. She spent 6 years from 1996-2002 in Cabinet serving as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and the Minister for the Status of Women. She was on a number of Cabinet Committees regarding health, social policy, volunteerism, homelessness and same-sex benefits. She was also the Minister responsible for the Vancouver agreement.
As a Minister, Dr. Fry represented the Canadian government as Head of delegation at many high-profile, multilateral Conventions of the United Nations, Francophonie, Commonwealth, Organization of American States and Council of Europe, most notably Canada’s 4th Report to the UN Commission on Human Rights, UN’s Beijing Plus 2000 and the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban. There, Canada played the key role in expunging the Teheran document of all anti-Semitic language and hate speech against Israel. In preparation for the WCAR, Dr. Fry initiated the first UN Youth Against Racism Secretariat, culminating in a youth NGO convention at Durban.
In 2006, Dr. Fry ran for the Leadership of the Liberal Party as the first immigrant woman to do so with her True Grit campaign. While in Opposition, she served as Critic for Sport and the 2010 Olympics, Canadian Heritage, and Health. In Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, she Chairs the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, and represents Canada at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly in her role as Special Representative for Gender Issues.
Fry lives in Vancouver and has three sons. She continues working hard representing her constituents and fighting for issues such as health care, gender equality, human rights, animal cruelty, environmental health, and a multiplicity of others.
I do not support Bill C-14 in its present state because I do not think that the final version of the bill reflects the intent of the Supreme Court of Canada's ruling on physician-assisted death (Carter case) nor do I think that it serves the patient's best interests. I did not come to this decision easily.
Canada should and could have a role, working through the World Health Organization, to create such basic systems, through international aid. But, it must also look internally to the failure of our own health system to serve the needs of our Northern peoples where TB is highest (234 cases per 100,000) primarily because of inadequate housing and overcrowding.
The Liberal government's Health Accord recognized that; the Council of the Federation recognizes that; health care advocates and health professions recognize that. This is the mandate of the federal government and it is time to stop passing the buck to provinces.
The move to per capita transfers means that health care transfers will not be based on need, but on population alone. We know there are a number of provinces with smaller populations and many with a disproportionately large number of seniors -- it will cost those provinces more in order to deliver the care they need, when they need it.
Development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine is still a dream for the future. We have a Canadian strategy that's proven that it can act now to decrease transmission and lower the number of new cases -- a strategy that provides a real opportunity to end the HIV pandemic in our lifetime.
Our country needs a pharmaceuticals strategy that's more than just low-cost drug coverage. Unfortunately, when the Harper government -- which has consistently treated collaboration with the provinces and territories as both obscene and objectionable -- came to power, it walked away from a national pharmaceuticals strategy. As a result, instead of being eight years in on making prescription drugs more accessible, and safer, millions in our country -- as many as one-in-ten Canadians -- cannot afford the medication they need.
That Canada now ranks 27th out of 29 in health and safety, child mortality and obesity should indicate that the Conservatives are taking us in the wrong direction and need to seriously reassess public policy initiatives in these areas. Where is the leadership on a national immunization program?