Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee (OPHESAC)

The Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee (formerly the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table) is a group of independent, multi-disciplinary experts whose role is to enhance provincial capacity to respond to a spectrum of public health emergencies with the best available evidence. OPHESAC provides independent scientific advice to PHO, and where appropriate through PHO to Ministry of Health, to inform the management of public health emergencies, including COVID-19.

Health equity is a core component of OPHESAC scientific advice, consistent with PHO’s legislated objects. Populations which may be disproportionately affected by public health emergencies will be considered and addressed in OPHESAC’s scientific advice.

OPHESAC will produce important scientific reports and recommendations to support PHO and the province in its response to COVID-19 and future public health emergencies. All OPHESAC resources will be made publicly available on this webpage. Please see the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table website for resources published by the Table prior to the implementation of OPHESAC.

Recently Published


Upton Allen, Chair
Dr. Allen is a Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto. He is also the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), as well as a Senior Associate Scientist in the Child Health and Evaluative Sciences program at SickKids. Dr. Allen was the Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, where he provided expertise and leadership on important topics like COVD-19 in children, as well as co-authored many of Table’s Science Briefs on schools, vaccine uptake in children, and post-COVID-19 condition (long COVID). He was also a past Director of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and a Fellow of the Society. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians (UK). In 2018, he was awarded the Order of Ontario, which is the highest honor awarded by the province of Ontario, Canada.



Eric Kennedy
PhD, MSc

Dr. Eric Kennedy is an Associate Professor of Disaster & Emergency Management at York University, where he teaches on and researches issues related to emergency planning, preparedness, and response. He also serves as Associate Director of York University’s newly-launched Emergency Mitigation, Engagement, Response, and Governance Institute (Y-EMERGE). Dr. Kennedy’s work focuses on decision-making, science advice, policy/governance, and knowledge production in disaster and emergency contexts. He holds a PhD in the Human & Social Dimensions of Science & Technology from Arizona State University, where his dissertation examined the use of science, evidence, and data in the context of wildfire management in Canada. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Kennedy was principal investigator on a longitudinal project monitoring Canadian attitudes, experiences and adaptations, as well as led an international working group on survey research methodologies in the pandemic context. His ongoing research explores issues related to expert judgement and knowledge synthesis in the context of emergency response.

Na-Koshie Lamptey

Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey started as the first Deputy Medical Officer of Health at the City of Toronto in January 2021. At Toronto Public Health, Dr. Lamptey's dynamic portfolio has included leadership of teams responsible for COVID-19 case and outbreak management, immunization, epidemiology, and public health planning and decision support. Dr. Lamptey obtained her Medical Degree at the University of Toronto, as well as degrees in Epidemiology and Public Health Management from Yale and a Bachelor of Liberal Arts from Princeton University. Prior to her current role in Toronto, she held positions as a Regional Medical Officer of Health in New Brunswick and Associate Medical Officer of Health at the Sudbury and District Health Unit. She has managed public health emergency response for events related to climate change such as record-breaking seasonal flooding, tropical storms, and forest fires. She has also overseen public health response to communicable disease outbreaks including sexually transmitted and blood borne infections and vaccine preventable diseases.  Her health hazard experience includes emergency management of train derailments, chemical spills and petroleum fires. Dr. Lamptey is a public health and preventive medicine physician committed to improving population health through clinical care, policy development and system advocacy.

Christopher Mushquash
PhD, C.Psych.

Dr. Christopher Mushquash is Anishinawbe (Ojibway) and a member of Pawgwasheeng (Pays Plat First Nation). He is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Lakehead University and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine University. He is a Clinical Psychologist at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, Vice President Research at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, and Chief Scientist at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Research Institute. Dr. Mushquash is also Director of the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research at Lakehead University. Dr. Mushquash is a Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Mental Health and Addiction, with expertise in rural and northern clinical practice and the development of culturally appropriate interventions for mental health and addiction difficulties in First Nations children, adolescents, and adults. He is a researcher, clinician, and First Nation scholar who was born and raised in rural Northwestern Ontario.


Aaron Orkin

Dr. Aaron Orkin is a Physician and Researcher in Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Public Health and Preventive Medicine. He studied History and Philosophy of Medicine (Oxford), Public Health (Toronto), and Clinical Epidemiology (Toronto). He is Ontario's first fellowship-trained Clinical Public Health Specialist, and is passionate about improving patient care and community health by integrating clinical practice and public health approaches. His practice focuses on addressing health inequities in close partnership with marginalized communities, and building sustainable, community-based services by engaging the public directly in health service delivery. He has advised governments and the humanitarian non-profit sector in Canada and internationally on population health and equity. Dr. Orkin is an Associate Professor in the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He practices emergency medicine at St. Joseph's Health Centre, Unity Health Toronto.

Stephanie Premji

Dr. Stephanie Premji is an Associate Professor at the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University, where she has been conducting research and teaching since 2011. Dr. Premji’s research investigates workers’ health and safety at the intersection of gender, racialization, immigration and disability. Her current work, which is community-based, focuses on experiences of precarious work and health in the Toronto Bangladeshi community. In particular, she is interested in how workers’ compensation and return-to-work systems respond to the needs of workers in contexts of precarity. Her research has produced recommendations for policy and practice, including on ways to address language-related barriers in health and safety. Dr. Premji completed her PhD in Environmental Sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2009. She is and Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Work and Health and former President of the Canadian Association for Research on Work and Health (2018-2020).

Lynda Redwood-Campbell

Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University. She is also the Director of Global Health Postgraduate Medical Education McMaster. She is the Chair of the International Advisory Council at the Besrour Centre for Global Family Medicine. Dr. Redwood-Campbell has been involved in international humanitarian work for over 25 years. In this capacity, she has responded to over 25 different international disasters globally as Senior Medical Officer or Team Leader for the International Red Cross. She has experience in many countries globally such as Indonesia, The Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mozambique, Rwanda, Haiti and more. Educated at McMaster University, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, she has over 100 publications and invited presentations pertaining to disasters, humanitarian response, global health, and primary care/family medicine.


Gilla Shapiro
MA (Cantab), MPP/MPA, PhD, CPsych 
Dr. Gilla Shapiro is a Psychologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto. She completed a PhD in Clinical and Health Psychology at McGill University and a dual-degree Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Hertie School of Governance. At the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Dr. Shapiro currently completes research that evaluates the social determinants of health and effective psychotherapeutic interventions for patients with cancer. As a research consultant for the World Health Organization, she also conduct research on the social and behavioural determinants of vaccination in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Dr. Shapiro’s interests include improving mental health, understanding health behaviour including vaccine decision making, examining the social determinants of health, and promoting health equity, access, and inclusion in diverse populations.

Marek Smieja
Dr. Marek Smieja is an Infectious Diseases Specialist, an HIV Physician and Microbiologist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Hamilton Health Sciences. He oversaw development and implementation of high-throughput COVID-19 PCR testing in Hamilton. He is Co-Director of Infection Prevention and Control at St. Joe’s Hamilton and a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster University. He is a member of the Institute of Infectious Diseases Research at McMaster University.
Dr. Smieja obtained his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Western Ontario in 1987, with post graduate training at Dalhousie University, the University of London, and McMaster University. He obtained his PhD from McMaster University in 2002 in Health Research Methodology. His research interests include development of diagnostics for respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. He has authored 200 peer reviewed articles and book chapters, and co-edited a book on Evidence Based Infectious Diseases.

Maxwell J. Smith

Dr. Maxwell Smith is a Bioethicist and Assistant Professor in the School of Health Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University. At Western, he also serves as an Associate Director of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy and holds cross-appointments in the Department of Philosophy, Schulich Interfaculty Program in Public Health, and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Dr. Smith is a member of the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Ethics and Governance Expert Working Group and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Public Health Ethics Consultative Group. He completed a PhD in Public Health Sciences and Bioethics at the University of Toronto, a Master of Science in Bioethics at Union Graduate College and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and a Certificate in Health Law at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University. He completed post-doctoral training at the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University. Dr. Smith has published widely in public health ethics, and specifically on infectious disease ethics and the ethical dimensions of advancing health equity and social justice in public health.

Kednapa Thavorn
MPharm, PhD

Dr. Kednapa Thavorn is a Senior Scientist and a Scientific Lead of Health Economics at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. She is also an Associate Professor with the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa, and an Adjunct Scientist at ICES (Full Status). She holds a PhD in Health Services Research from the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation (IHPME) at the University of Toronto. She completed post-doctoral fellowship programs in Applied Pharmacoeconomics from the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital and Health Services Research from the IHPME at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on health economics, health technology assessment, pharmacoepidemiology, health equity, care for people with complex needs, and population health.

Ingrid Waldron

Dr. Ingrid Waldron is Professor and HOPE Chair in Peace and Health in the Global Peace and Social Justice Program in the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University. She is an Associate Scientist at the Population Health Research Institute and a Member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Community at McMaster University. She is also the Chair of the Diversity and Equity Committee in the Department of History at McMaster University, Honorary Board Member at the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and a Member of the Board of Directors at Research Canada. Dr. Waldron holds a PhD. in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, a Master of Arts in Intercultural Education: Race, Ethnicity and Culture from the University of London, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from McGill University. She was also a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Women’s Health in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the structural determinants of health and mental health in Black, Indigenous, and other BIPOC communities. Over the last 10 years, her research, teaching, and advocacy have focused on the health effects of environmental and climate injustices, mental illness, dementia, and COVID-19 in Black, Indigenous, and other BIPOC communities.

J. Scott Weese

Dr. J. Scott Weese is a Veterinary Internist, a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He is a Professor at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, and Director of the University of Guelph Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses. He is also Chief of Infection Control at the Ontario Veterinary College Health Sciences Centre, as well as a member of the Quadripartite Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, Chair of the World Health Organization Critically Important Antimicrobial List Advisory Group and member of numerous national and international committees on topics including: antimicrobial resistance, infectious diseases and emerging diseases, with a focus on disease at the human-animal interface.


Conflict of Interest Rules

Public Health Ontario recognizes that many external advisors may not be completely free of actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest, as they may have affiliations with regulated industries, the scientific community or special interest groups, which receive funding from industry.

In an attempt to avoid or mitigate conflict of interest, we have developed conflict of interest rules that are intended to achieve a reasonable balance of those divergent considerations and the expertise we hope to gain from the external advisors, while avoiding or mitigating conflict of interest. To this end, each candidate will be asked to complete a conflict of interest disclosure form as part of the application process. 

Read more
Chat icon




Updated 11 Oct 2023