The Ontario government announced the appointment of eight members of the new Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force today and the appointees include Western chancellor Linda Hasenfratz and Western bioethicist and assistant professor Maxwell Smith.
The task force, chaired by General (retired) Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces, will oversee the delivery, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
Hasenfratz, BSc’89, EMBA’97, LLD’19, currently serves as Western’s 23rd chancellor. A Western alumna and member of the Ivey Business School Advisory Board, she is CEO of Linamar – one of the world’s most successful manufacturing companies.
“Distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in Ontario is one of the most important things we will do as a province, I am honoured to be asked to play a role in that. Ensuring everyone is vaccinated as efficiently and effectively as possible is key to controlling this pandemic and restoring some semblance of normalcy in our lives; it is critical that every Ontarian is engaged and part of that process,” said Hasenfratz.
Smith, a professor at Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences, co-directs the University’s Health Ethics, Law, and Policy (HELP) Lab. He also serves as an ethics advisor for the World Health Organization. Smith led a Canadian government-funded project that examined how the world’s response to the Ebola virus might serve as an ethics template for the COVID-19 outbreak.
“It’s an honour and privilege to be appointed to the Ministers’ COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. As a bioethicist, I consider it my duty to agree to this appointment and will work to promote ethics and equity in these efforts,” said Smith.
Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, confirmed the following individuals will join General Hillier, Hasenfratz and Smith to advise on the planning and execution of the province’s COVID-19 immunization program:
- Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s Chief Coroner and Coordinator of Provincial Outbreak Response
- Homer Tien, trauma surgeon and President and CEO, Ornge
- Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases consultant and internist, Toronto General Hospital
- Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald of Taykwa Tagamou Nation
- Regis Vaillancourt, Director of Pharmacy and Integrated Pain Services, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
- Angela Mondou, President and CEO, TECHNATION
- Mark Saunders, former Toronto Police Chief
“This is a critical stage in our fight against COVID-19. The task force we have assembled will play a key role in developing and implementing Ontario’s immunization program,” said Minister Elliott, a Western Law alumna (LLB’78). “I am confident that with the collective knowledge, experience and advice from these experts, Ontario will be ready to deliver the vaccines in an ethical, timely and effective manner as soon as they are available.”
“Ontarians can have confidence in the experience and expertise that members of this Task Force bring to this critical mission for our province,” said Solicitor General Jones. “The valuable advice and varied perspectives that will be provided by this group of experts will support the safe and effective implementation of Ontario’s largest immunization program in a century.”
The task force will work in partnership with several ministries to provide the government with diverse expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial and Indigenous relations, health and clinical domains, behavioural science, public health and immunization, ethics, and information technology and data.
Beginning immediately, the task force will focus on several key areas, specifically delivery, logistics and administration, clinical guidance as well as public education and outreach. This morning, General Hillier led a successful tabletop exercise on the distribution of the first 100,000 doses.
“The safe, secure and successful delivery of COVID-19 vaccines is a huge undertaking,” said General Hillier. “I am honoured that these outstanding individuals with expertise in health, industry and logistics are joining our task force and I look forward to working with them on this important mission.”