Former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott has been tapped as a special adviser to lead Ontario’s pandemic data efforts.
“Access to timely, reliable, cohesive data is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19, and save lives,” Philpott said in a tweet Thursday morning in response to the announcement.
She will advise the government on the implementation of the Ontario Health Data Platform and chair the Joint Ministers’ Roundtable, providing recommendations to Ontario’s Health Minister and President of the Treasury Board. The roundtable includes public health, research, privacy and clinical experts.
In a video posted by Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott, Philpott calls the platform an “integral part” of the province’s response to the pandemic.
It will help increase detection of COVID-19, discover the risk for vulnerable populations and predict when and where outbreaks could occur, she said. The platform will also evaluate the measures the province is taking to prevent the spread of the virus and treat people who contract it, as well as identifying where to allocate equipment.
Philpott has been vocal online about the need for better data to inform the province and country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Philpott, Canada’s former-health minister and a family physician, has already been on the front lines of the fight against the virus. In March, she volunteered at a COVID-19 test centre in a Markham, Ont. hospital. In April, she began working full-time at Participation House, a home for adults who have disabilities where a majority of the staff walked off the job amid a COVID-19 outbreak.
Elliott said Philpott’s extensive leadership experience in the health-care system will be “invaluable” in the creation of the data platform.
It’s being created in consultation with Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner, and researchers will be able to access the platform in July.
Philpott will also begin as the dean of Queen’s University’s faculty of health sciences in July.
She serves as a volunteer special adviser on health for Nishnawbe Aski Nation in northwestern Ontario, as well.
Philpott resigned as Treasury Board president in March 2019 amid the SNC-Lavalin scandal, saying it was “untenable” to continue to serve after the Liberal’s handling of the affair and its treatment of former-attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould.
She ran as an independent in the 2019 federal election in her Markham-Stouffville riding, but lost to the Liberal candidate.
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