Theresa Tam obtained her medical degree from the University of Nottingham (UK), completed her pediatric residency at the University of Alberta, and then her fellowship in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Tam was appointed Chief Public Health Officer of Canada in 2017 after holding several senior leadership positions at the Public Health Agency of Canada, including Deputy Chief Public Health Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control.
During her 20+ years of working in public health, Dr. Tam has acquired expertise in several fields, notably immunization, infectious disease, emergency preparedness and global health security. She has been a leader in Canada’s health response to previous epidemics, such as SARS, H1N1 pandemic influenza, and Ebola and is currently leading Canada’s response to COVID-19.
Barbara Yaffe earned a medical degree and a Master’s of Health Sciences in Community Health and Epidemiology from the University of Toronto, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Public Health & Preventative Medicine. For over 30 years, she has worked in the field of public health, principally in Toronto, where she focuses on addressing the needs of diverse communities, including new immigrants, the homeless, drug users, and other marginalized communities. Dr. Yaffe’s also has experience in prevention and control of infectious diseases and emergency preparedness and response. She was a key leader in the investigation of the largest SARS outbreak in North America, and acted as incident manager for Toronto’s H1N1 influenza pandemic.
Deena Hinshaw is from Sylvan Lake, Alberta, and completed her medical degree, a Masters of Public Health, as well as her residences in family medicine and community medicine at the University of Alberta.
Prior to her appointment as Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health in 2019, she served as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health and Medical Officer of Health in the Central Alberta Zone of Alberta Health Services, overseeing and directing public health surveillance and infrastructure.
Bonnie Henry completed her medical training at Dalhousie University before completing a masters of public health and specialty training in Preventive Medicine at the University of California at San Diego. She then completed a residency in Public Health and Preventive Medicine at the University of Toronto.
Henry has been involved in responding to public health emergencies both domestically and abroad. She worked with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) polio eradication program in Pakistan, before moving to Uganda to assist the WHO’s efforts against Ebola. She returned to Canada to join Toronto Public Health, where Henry led the operational response to the SARS outbreak. She led the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control through the H1N1 influenza pandemic and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and Paralympics Games. As Deputy Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia, she helped lead the provinces’s efforts during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 and devastating floods and wildfires in 2017 and 2018. She is the author of “Soap and Water & Common Sense”.
In her role as Provincial Health Officer dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Henry has been described as “a calming voice in a scene of coronavirus madness.”
Janice Fitzgerald completed a Bachelor of Science in 1990, and a Doctor of Medicine in 1994 from Memorial University of Newfoundland. After completing the family medicine residency program at Dalhousie University in 1996, she returned to Newfoundland, where she worked as a family medical doctor in both rural and urban communities. She expanded to practice long-term care in 2013, as well as becoming the Clinical Chief Officer of Long-Term Care at Eastern Health, Newfoundland’s largest integrated health organization, from 2017 to 2019. Dr. Fitzgerald became a Medical Officer of Health in 2017, prior to becoming the acting Chief Medical Officer of Health for the province in 2019.
Jennifer Russell studied Medicine at Memorial University, then joined the Canadian Forces Medical Officer Training Program. There, she was involved in preventative medicine and travel and immunization clinics. Russell’s interest in cervical screening led her to set up a pap registry for female Canadian Forces members.
After briefly working with Veterans Affairs, she worked for Addiction Services at the opioid agonist treatment clinic at the Victoria Health Centre in Fredericton. She then worked as a hospitalist with in-patients who didn’t have a family doctor, and filling in for physicians on leave. Her experience and interest in preventative medicine led her to work in public health. As Chief Medical Officer of Health, she is able to apply her knowledge and experience to make a difference in the health of the people of New Brunswick.
Heather Morrison completed a Master’s and a Doctorate in Comparative Social Research and Social Policy at Oxford University, where she wrote a thesis on health policy decision-making. In doing so, she became Prince Edward Island’s first female Rhodes Scholar. She returned to Canada to earn a MD at Dalhousie University, and completed her residency in community medicine at the University of Toronto.
She has served in a variety of leadership roles, including the Chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Medical Officers, Co-chair of provincial committees to address the opioid crisis and Ebola response, represented PEI on the Public Health Network of Canada, and served on the national Special Advisory Committee for the H1N1 influenza pandemic and on the Epidemic of opioid overdoses. Morrison continues to practice emergency medicine in Charlottetown.
Shelby Yamamoto earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science, a Master’s in Occupational and Environmental Health from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Heidelberg.
Yamamoto’s research at the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health explores how environmental and psychosocial factors impact the health of vulnerable populations, including women and children, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Her cross-disciplinary research investigates the relationship between air pollution, climate change and chronic disease, and exploring approaches to assess these relationships to mitigate their impacts.
She received a grant from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research to study the impact of the pandemic on the well-being of new mothers, newborns and health care professionals. Her findings will help inform policy makers both at home and abroad.
Samira Mubareka received her undergraduate degree from the University of New Brunswick before heading to Dalhousie University to pursue her MD. She continued her education at McGill, earning a degree in Internal Medicine, and a degree in Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, and then worked as a Research Fellow at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Her research at Sunnybrook Health Science Centre focuses on how influenza and respiratory diseases such as coronaviruses are transmitted between mammals, and she has sought to understand how viruses transmit at the human-animal interface. At the outset of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, Samira led a collaborative team to isolate and characterize the virus, sharing this tool broadly among the scientific community in Canada. As the pandemic unfolded, she played an important role in coordinating regional and national viral genome sequencing initiatives, and worked on studies and models to understand the role of bioaerosols in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
Women of COVID
Contribution, Effort and Direction
Text from poster
Women are on the frontline of Canada’s medical response to COVID-19. Ingenium celebrates and acknowledges the contributions, endless efforts, and steadfast direction of healthcare workers, researchers, and medical officials.
Women featured (clockwise from bottom left): Janice Fitzgerald, Theresa Tam, Heather Morrison, Bonnie Henry, Barbara Yaffe, Samira Mubareka, Jennifer Russell, Shelby Yamamoto, Deena Hinshaw
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone but that does not mean that certain groups aren’t disproportionately affected by it. If we consider the impacts of this virus from gender lens, there is much we can learn about our paid and unpaid workforces, medical leaders and response, and the importance of equity in STEM.
In the health care system, most front line workers are women and in these roles they risk exposure to this virus. Other essential services, including cashiers, retail and grocery workers, cleaners, shelter workers and crisis responders, are also being tested by the impact and effects of this virus. Here too, the majority of these jobs are held by women.
But that only looks at paid labour. Those performing unpaid labour, such as caretaking duties for children and the elderly, are also feeling the strain of the pandemic in roles that are predominantly filled by women. On top of these responsibilities, the closure of schools is also forcing many parents to take on teaching. This is, undoubtedly, a period of increased demand at home.
Bringing a gender lens to leadership in healthcare shows us that during the COVID-19 pandemic, half of Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments have a woman as the chief medical officer, and 2/3 of Canadians live in provinces where women serve as Chief Public Health Officers. This representation is crucially important to the decision-making process as it can help mitigate the gendered impacts of COVID that might be otherwise overlooked, such as unpaid child care, economic stress, lack of access to services and gender-based violence. For the future, studies have shown that when women see other women in leadership roles, it encourages them to pursue similar goals. Exposing girls and young women to female leadership roles models in STEM is a small but important step towards reducing the inequality in STEM fields.