New Members Appointed to Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee


7 Dec 2022

Members bring rich experience from diverse disciplines to address public health threats and emergencies.

New members with diverse expertise in public health threats and emergencies, including areas of epidemiology and surveillance, public health, health equity and social justice, emergency planning and occupational health have been appointed to the Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee. The members who come from various regions across Ontario will play a critical role in providing key evidence to enhance Ontario’s capacity to respond to a spectrum of public health emergencies. These new members announced today, are in addition to the Chair, Dr. Upton Allen, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and former Co-Chair of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table and Scientific Director, Dr. Paul Hébert, Scientist at Bruyère Research Institute, announced last month.

OPHESAC will provide independent scientific advice to PHO, and where appropriate through PHO to Ministry of Health, to inform and strengthen the response to public health emergencies, including COVID-19. OPHESAC will also examine populations which may be disproportionately affected by public health in its scientific advice.

The newly appointed members will enable the Committee to be scalable to respond to other health emergencies including viruses such as pandemic influenza, novel coronaviruses and other future public health concerns beyond COVID-19.

“This is a scientific advisory committee that will make an important contribution to the ability of the province to be well prepared for public health emergencies. This new committee will consist of a diverse group of leading experts in their fields very much like the previous science advisory table who are very well positioned to provide important advice on public health emergencies. The experts include individuals in public health, epidemiologists, surveillance experts, modellers as well as members who reflect clinical disciplines such as pediatrics, animal health and infectious diseases. OPHESAC will also examine populations which may be disproportionately affected by public health in its scientific advice.” 

— Dr. Upton Allen, OPHESAC Chair

The Ontario Public Health Emergencies Science Advisory Committee was established in fall 2022, with a mandate to enhance provincial capacity to address a spectrum of public health emergencies with the best available evidence.

“The committee will work closely with Public Health Ontario in a bidirectional manner to identify the areas that should be prioritized. We will take into account health equity issues as we move forward on all subject areas. As we move forward over the next two to three months, we are mindful of the fact that we are in a very severe respiratory virus season and that there are areas we will need to tackle while being aware of the fact that we are still within a pandemic,” said Allen.

OPHESAC’s work may also include providing interpretation and insight with respect to epidemiology and indicators of disease transmission and severity, as well as mathematical modelling. The committee will produce important scientific reports and recommendations, all of which will be made available on PHO’s OPHESAC webpage. In addition to the members listed below, the Committee will have access to experts from a spectrum of disciplines who will be engaged periodically as needed.

The new appointed members are:

  • Dr. Prabhat Jha, University Professor at the University of Toronto and Endowed Professor in Global Health and Epidemiology and Canada Research Chair at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health
  • Dr. Eric Kennedy, Associate Professor of Disaster & Emergency Management at York University and Associate Director of York University’s Emergency Mitigation, Engagement, Response, and Governance Institute
  • Dr. Na-Koshie Lamptey, Deputy Medical Officer of Health at the City of Toronto
  • Dr. Christopher Mushquash, Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of Psychology at Lakehead University, Vice President Research and Chief Scientist at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre
  • Dr. Aaron Orkin, Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Toronto. Director of Population Health at Inner City Health Associates, Toronto
  • Dr. Stephanie Premji, Associate Professor at the School of Labour Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University and Adjunct Scientist at the Institute for Work and Health
  • Dr. Lynda Redwood-Campbell, Professor of Family Medicine and Director of Global Health Postgraduate Medical Education at McMaster University and Chair of the International Advisory Council at the Besrour Centre for Global Family Medicine.
  • Dr. Gilla Shapiro, Psychologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, and Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto
  • Dr. Marek Smieja, Infectious Diseases Specialist, an HIV Physician and Microbiologist at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and Hamilton Health Sciences
  • Dr. Maxwell J. Smith, Bioethicist and Assistant Professor in the School of Health Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University and Associate Director of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University
  • Dr. Kednapa Thavorn, Senior Scientist and Scientific Lead of Health Economics at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and Associate Professor at the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa
  • Dr. Ingrid Waldron, Professor and HOPE Chair in Peace and Health in the Global Peace and Social Justice Program in the Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University and Associate Scientist at the Population Health Research Institute
  • Dr. J. Scott Weese, Veterinary Internist and Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

Public Health Ontario (PHO) is providing scientific and secretariat support for the committee.

To read full biographies of the members, visit the OPHESAC webpage.

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Published 7 Dec 2022