Cathy Fooks, Ontario's patient ombudsman, dies in accident

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TORONTO — Ontario's patient ombudsman has died in an accident, the government agency has confirmed.

Cathy Fooks assumed her role on July 13, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The office of the patient ombudsman announced her death on Thursday.

Premier Doug Ford said he was saddened to learn of Fooks's passing and offered his condolences to her husband and family.

"Cathy was a champion who fought tirelessly to improve the patient and family caregiver experience in our health-care system," said Ford. "My thoughts are with her husband Terrence and family."

Health Minister Christine Elliott said that Fooks dedicated her life to public service and to improving the quality of health care in Ontario.

"All with the single-minded focus of enhancing the experience of patients, families and their caregivers," said Elliott in a tweet. "We have lost a true champion who will be sorely missed. Rest in peace."

The patient ombudsman supports Ontarians who have voiced concerns about their health-care experience.

It also investigates and makes recommendations on unresolved complaints about public hospitals and long-term care homes.

A statement from the organization said that Fooks was "a forward-thinking leader" in Ontario's health-care sector.

Before becoming the province's patient ombudsman, Fooks was the president and CEO of The Change Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to improving the patient and caregiver experience in Ontario.

In 2018 she was a special advisor to the Ontario Ministry of Health to assist with the setup of the Ontario Caregiver Organization.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 31, 2020.

The Canadian Press