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Ottawa Board of Health

Ottawa Board of Health has a legislated duty to ensure the provision of public health programs and services to the citizens of Ottawa, and to govern these programs and services in the public interest, including fiscal and administrative oversight. The Board is responsible for approving policies developed by the Medical Officer of Health and staff of Ottawa Public Health, who together identify the health needs of the community. These needs are addressed by a range of programs and services in the four broad areas of health protection, health promotion, disease and risk factor surveillance (population health assessment) and injury and disease prevention. The Board is also responsible for advising City Council on other issues under its jurisdiction that have a public health dimension.

Questions? Please call 613 580-6744 (TTY: 613-580-9656) or email

Members of the Board of Health

The Board of Health includes 11 members -

Six City Council representatives

Five public members

  • Dr. Atul Kapur 
  • Dr. Lewis Leikin
  • Suzanne Pinel
  • Jo-Anne Poirier (Vice-Chair)
  • Peter Tilley
  • Janet Cosier (alternate member)

Public members of the Board of Health

Dr. Atul Kapur

Dr. Atul Kapur is an Emergency Physician at the Ottawa Hospital and a highly respected advocate in tobacco control who has been involved with initiatives at the local, provincial, national, and international levels. These efforts led to his current position as President of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada. A former Vice-Chair of the Canadian Medical Association's Council on Health Care and Promotion, he currently serves on its Ethics Committee and also sits on the Ontario Medical Association’s negotiations, budget and health policy committees. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Ottawa and a Collaborating Investigator with the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, where his research interests include the interface between public health and emergency medicine.

Dr. Lewis Leikin

Dr. Lewis Leikin is a psychologist specializing in mental health and chronic illness. Over the past three decades, Dr. Leikin has worked with children, youth and their families at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario, and consulted to a variety of community, national and governmental organizations regarding the prevention and treatment of mental health problems. As a Clinical Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Leikin supervises resident and intern training in child psychotherapy, and he has conducted published research in the areas of health psychology, emergency room utilization, and childhood psychopharmacology. Long active in the community, Dr Leikin has served on the Boards of the Ontario Psychological Association, the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, and on Advisory Panels for the Canadian Psychological Association, the Learning Disability Association of Ottawa, and other organizations. In addition to a very busy professional life, Dr Leikin is an active outdoors enthusiast, a proud father of two, and grandfather of three young adventurers.  

Suzanne Pinel

Suzanne Pinel has had a remarkable career as a nurse educator, singer-songwriter and counselor, pouring her energy into the well-being of children. A graduate of the University of Ottawa in science (nursing) and social hygiene, she taught pediatrics and child development at the Ottawa General Hospital’s School of Nursing and music therapy at Algonquin College. In addition, she has organized and spoken at many conferences and workshops on how music impacts child development. She developed and directed music programs on behalf of organizations such as the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), the Outaouais school board, and the faculties of education at the University of Ottawa and Laurentian University. From 1998 to 2012, she was a Canadian citizenship judge.

Ms. Pinel is also known for her work in television and the arts. As the creator of the award-winning children’s TV show “Marie-Soleil,” she released several albums and videos, including educational materials for learning French as a second language.

Ms. Pinel has sat on several boards of directors, including charities: the CHEO Foundation, La Cité collégiale, the Canadian Institute of Child Health, the Hôpital Montfort Association, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Montfort Long-Term Care Centre, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, United Way Ottawa, Kids Help Phone, the Easter Seals, Canadian Blood Services, the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa, the Say No to Drugs campaign and the Children’s Vaccination Awareness Program, to name a few.

Ms. Pinel has received several awards for her community service, including the President’s Prize from the Ontario Medical Association for her work to improve population health. In 1991, she received Canada’s highest honour when she became a Member of the Order of Canada. In June 2003, the University of Ottawa awarded her an honorary doctorate, and in 2012 Ms. Pinel received the Order of Ontario.

Ms. Pinel is an Ottawa native, a mother of three and a grandmother of four.

Jo-Anne Poirier (Vice-Chair)

Jo-Anne Poirier joined VON Canada in 2014 as President and Chief Executive Officer. From 2008 until 2014, Jo-Anne was the Chief Executive Officer of the Ottawa Community Housing Corporation. Under her leadership, Ottawa Community Housing received several awards for excellence including the 2011 Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Business Achievement Award’s Non-Profit Organization of the Year. Jo Anne was previously Vice-President, Resource Development and Chief Executive Officer of the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign for United Way Ottawa, First Vice-President, Business Development for MBNA Canada Bank, and Deputy City Manager, Corporate Services with the City of Gloucester. She has worked over 35 years in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors.

Jo-Anne is also actively involved in the community and on several Boards of Directors. She is currently the Second Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and Vice-Chair of the City of Ottawa Board of Health. She was a founding LHIN Board member from 2005-2010. Jo-Anne has received several awards for her work in the community, including most recently the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the 2012 Dirigeante de l'année, Secteur Communautaire (2012 CEO of the year - Non-Profit sector) Award from the Regroupement des gens d'affaires de la capitale nationale.

Peter Tilley

Peter Tilley has been the Executive Director of the Ottawa Mission since June 2013. The Ottawa Mission is one of Ottawa’s oldest yet most progressive downtown shelters for the homeless, providing a full range of services to the less fortunate in our community.

Before taking over at the helm of the Ottawa Mission, Peter served for 14 years as the Executive Director of the Ottawa Food Bank, leading that organization to become recognized as one of Canada’s most visible and most respected food banks.

A graduate of the Business Administration Program at Algonquin College (1984), Peter has also worked as a manager in the recruitment industry and as a senior manager in the hotel industry.

Peter now teaches the Introduction to Non Profit Management course at Algonquin College on weekends.

Peter was a 2012 Ontario Premier Award nominee and was recently recognized as Algonquin College’s Alumnus of the Year.

He is the proud father of a 19 year old daughter, Samantha, whom he has raised as a single father since she was five. 

Janet Cosier (alternate member)

These members were appointed to the Board of Health for the City of Ottawa Health Unit, all terms to be effective on the date of proclamation of the amendments to the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 and to expire with the term of Council.

Governance background

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) exists to protect and promote the health of all Ottawa residents. The Board of Health (BOH) is responsible for upholding standards under the Health Protection and Promotion Act and other legislation, and for establishing the overall objectives and priorities of OPH.

In May 2008, the City's Community and Protective Services Committee passed a motion directing OPH staff to consult with members of the public regarding the establishment of a new BOH governance model designed to improve stewardship of public health programs and ensure a continued ability to anticipate and respond to local community health needs.

The recommended governance structure was referred to City Council for consideration in conjunction with the City’s overall governance report and was subsequently approved by Council in June 2009. At that meeting, the City Clerk and Solicitor was directed to proceed with an application to the Province of Ontario to amend the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 in order to provide the legislative authority necessary to implement the new BOH governance structure.

City staff conducted discussions with provincial representatives from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care regarding the best approach for implementing the necessary legislative changes. Following this, in March 2010, the Ontario Minister of Finance tabled Bill 16 in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Bill 16, includes amendments to the City of Ottawa Act, 1999 and establishes a new governance model for the BOH.

Briefly, Bill 16 amends the City of Ottawa Act to:

  • Direct Council to appoint all members of the Board, including public members
  • Specify that the City's policy with respect to the use of the English and French languages will apply to the new Board of Health
  • Direct the City to provide to the Board all public health employees that the City considers necessary to enable the Board to carry out its functions

The new governance structure of the Board of Health was approved on December 8, 2010.

The Province of Ontario amended the City of Ottawa Act, 1999, which results in the legal legitimacy of the new Ottawa Board of Health on April 28, 2011.

Public Health Units

Local public health units are responsible for ensuring the delivery of public health programs and services in the rural and urban areas of Ontario. There are 36 public health units in Ontario. To learn more, visit the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Ottawa Public Health is required to adhere to the Health Protection and Promotion Act and the Ontario Public Health Standards.

Code of Conduct

The Board of Health believes that its Members are held to a high standard of ethical behaviour in all aspects of their conduct at all times, and should endeavour to fulfill their duties in a way that maintains and enhances public confidence in the Board of Health.

The Board represents the public and considers the well-being and health of the residents of Ottawa while carrying out its duties under the Health Protection and Promotion Act or any other Act. In determining which services the health unit provides, and developing and evaluating the policies and programs for the health unit, the Board ensures the accountability and transparency of the operations of the health unit.

Statutory Provisions Regulating Conduct 

This Code of Conduct is a complement to the existing legislation governing the conduct of Members of the Board of Health.

The following federal and provincial legislation governs the conduct of Members of the Board:

  • the Health Protection and Promotion Act;
  • the Municipal Act, 2001;
  • the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act;
  • the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;
  • the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004;
  • the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  • the Ontario Human Rights Code;
  • the Criminal Code of Canada; and
  • the by-laws and policies of the Board of Health as adopted and amended from time to time.

I.  Integrity

  • Members of the Board are committed to performing their functions with integrity, accountability and transparency.
  • Members of the Board are responsible for complying with all applicable legislation, Board of Health by-laws and policies pertaining to their position as an appointed Board Member.
  • Members of the Board recognize that the public has a right to open government and transparent decision-making.
  • Members of the Board will, at all times, serve and be seen to serve the interests of residents of the health unit in a conscientious and diligent manner and will approach decision-making with an open mind.
  • Members will avoid the improper use of the influence of their office and will avoid conflicts of interest, both apparent and real.
  • Members of the Board will avoid the discharge in their official duties preferential treatment to any individual or organization if a reasonably well-informed person would conclude that the preferential treatment was solely for the purpose of advancing a private or personal interest.

  II.  Confidentiality

By way of their appointment to the Board, Members of the Board may acquire confidential information from a variety of different sources including personal and/or personal health information related to residents or other confidential/proprietary information that is not personal.

In accordance with the rules under Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“MFIPPA”), Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA), Board by-laws and Board policies, Members of the Board will:

  • Keep in confidence any confidential information acquired by virtue of their position as a Board Member, in either oral or written form, except when required by law or authorized by the Board to do otherwise;
  • Where a matter has been discussed in camera, keep the matter or the substance of the deliberations of the in camera meeting confidential (Subsection 40 (1) (d) of the Procedure By-law); and
  • Refrain from using information that is obtained in his or her capacity as a Member and that is not available to the general public to further or seek to further the Member’s private interest or improperly to further or seek to further another person’s private interest.

 III.  Conduct at Board Meetings

Members of the Board will conduct themselves with decorum at all Board of Health meetings in accordance with the provisions of the Procedure By-law by:

  • Using respectful language;
  • Obeying the Rules of Procedure, or a decision of the Chair or of the Board, on questions of order or practice or upon the interpretation of the Rules of Procedure;
  • Recognizing that individual decisions and directions to staff are taken by the Board as a whole;
  • Board authority is not vested in any individual when interacting with staff, public, or media, except when explicitly authorized by the Board; and
  • Understanding that Board Members may not speak for the Board in public except to repeat explicitly stated Board decisions.

IV.  Discrimination and Harassment

All Members of the Board have a duty to treat members of the public, one another and staff with respect and without abuse, bullying or intimidation; and to ensure that their work environment is free from discrimination and harassment. The Ontario Human Rights Code as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply and, where applicable, the City of Ottawa’s Workplace Harassment Policy.

 V.  Use of Influence

Members of the Board are expected to perform their duties of office with integrity, accountability and transparency. Members of the Board should not use the status of their position to influence the decision of another individual to the private advantage of oneself, or one’s parents, children or spouse, staff members, friends, or associates, business or otherwise.

VI.  Conduct Respecting Staff

Members of the Board will be respectful of the role of staff to provide advice based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from an individual Member or group of Members of the Board.