Former Liberal cabinet minister and physician Jane Philpott has been appointed to help Ontario improve its COVID-19-related data collection, the Ministry of Health said Thursday.
Health Minister Christine Elliott said that Philpott will be a special advisor on the Ontario Health Data Platform, an initiative first announced by the government in April. During her time as an MP for Markham–Stouffville, Philpott served as the federal minister of health, Minister of Indigenous Services and President of the Treasury Board.
According to the province, the platform will provide anonymized health information to public health units, hospitals and researchers to assist their decision making.
In a video message posted online, Elliott and Philpott said it will allow Ontario’s fragmented health-care system better detect and respond to the novel coronavirus by helping to identify especially vulnerable populations, predict when and where outbreaks may happen and track the effectiveness of treatments and preventative measures.
Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner will also be involved in the development and implementation of the platform.
Philpott, a family doctor who resigned her cabinet post in the current federal government in the wake of the SNC-Lavalin scandal, will also chair a ministers round table on the response to COVID-19. The round table will include representatives working in public health, medical research and privacy and clinical experts.
Throughout the pandemic, some infectious disease experts have criticized Ontario’s health data collection as outdated, inconsistent and opaque. The result has been a conspicuous lack of important information to help guide the frontline response to COVID-19, they said.
In a news release, the province said that medical professionals and researchers will be able to access the data platform in July.
Ontario reported 338 additional cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Updated figures are expected from the province at 10:30 a.m. ET.
Premier Doug Ford is then scheduled to hold his daily briefing at 1 p.m. Ford’s office said he will be joined by Elliott, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services Todd Smith and Jamil Jivani, Ontario’s advocate for community opportunities. You can watch it live in this story.