Canadian Forces Health Services Group welcomes new Commander and Surgeon General
July 7, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces
Today, Rear-Admiral Rebecca Patterson assumed command of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CF H Svcs Gp) from Major-General Andrew Downes during a private ceremony held at National Defence Headquarters (Carling) in Ottawa. During the same ceremony, Major-General Marc Bilodeau assumed the duties of Surgeon General for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) from Major-General Downes. Vice-Admiral Haydn C. Edmundson, Commander, Military Personnel Command presided over the ceremony.
CF H Svcs Gp provides health services across Canada and overseas to Canadian military personnel and to any other population as directed by the Minister of National Defence. The interim re-structure of the CF H Svcs Gp will assist with the execution of the group’s complex multi-year Modernization Initiative, providing CF H Svcs Gp with increased senior representation at various strategic engagements to facilitate this project. CF H Svcs Group’s Modernization Initiative will bring in new operational capabilities, an Integrated Governance Framework, and enhanced primary care delivery, providing improved health outcomes while enhancing the stewardship of its resources.
On July 31, 2020, Major-General Downes will retire from the Canadian Armed Forces after nearly 31 years of loyal and dedicated military service. He enrolled in the CAF while studying medicine at the University of Manitoba, where he subsequently completed a residency in family medicine. Over the course of his career, he gained extensive operational experience, including deployments to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Afghanistan. Major-General Downes assumed the role of Commander and Surgeon General of Canadian Forces Health Services Group on July 5, 2017. His achievements during his tenure as Surgeon General included providing oversight on CF H Svcs Group’s Modernization Initiative, developing new operational capabilities such as Aeromedical Evacuation, and instituting a new Integrated Governance Framework.
Most recently, Major-General Downes has been instrumental in providing expert advice during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep CAF members and their families safe. Throughout these extremely challenging circumstances, Major-General Downes worked tirelessly to lead his team of dedicated healthcare personnel combatting the pandemic as part of Op LASER in long-term care facilities. Thanks to Major-Downes’ leadership and the work of CAF care providers, some of the most vulnerable Canadians received the urgent care they needed and lives were saved.
Rear-Admiral Patterson enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces as a critical care Nursing Officer in 1989. During her distinguished career, she has acquired a wide range of Command experience including, Command of the Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Atlantic), the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre, 1 Health Services Group and most notably, Deputy Commander of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. Rear-Admiral Patterson deployed as a member of Op SCALPEL with 1 Canadian Field Hospital during the Persian Gulf Conflict in 1991 (Saudi Arabia), Op DELIVERANCE in support of the Canadian Airborne Regiment in 1993 (Somalia), and Op ATTENTION with the NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (Kabul) 2011-2012. Most recently, Rear-Admiral Patterson served as Director General Professional Military Conduct – Operation HONOUR (DG PMC-OpH).
Before enrolling as a reservist in the Cadet Instructor Cadre in 1992, Major-General Bilodeau was an Army Cadet for six years. In 1995, during his third year in medical school, he enrolled in the Regular Force under the Medical Officer Training Program. He completed his residency in family medicine at Université Laval, Quebec City, in the summer of 2000. Over the course of his distinguished career with the CAF, Major-General Bilodeau has served in numerous senior leadership roles, including as Commanding Officer of Canadian Forces Health Services Centre (Ottawa), Director of Medical Policy at Health Services Group Headquarters in Ottawa, and Commander of 1 Health Services Group in Edmonton. Since 2019, Major-General Bilodeau has served as the Deputy Surgeon General.
“On behalf of the entire Canadian Armed Forces, I thank Major-General Downes for his exemplary tenure as the Surgeon General and his years of loyal service to our country. His wisdom and advice through the COVID-19 pandemic was instrumental in keeping the CAF fit to fight. I offer my congratulations to both Rear-Admiral Patterson and Major-General Bilodeau on their promotions and assumption of new duties. They bring to their new roles a wealth of knowledge and experience, and I am confident that their strategic medical leadership will ensure our members continue to benefit from our exceptional healthcare.”
- General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff
“I am honoured to take over as Commander of Canadian Forces Health Services Group. CF H Svcs Gp plays a critical role to CAF members, keeping them healthy so that they will be ready when called upon. My top priority is continuing to build an organization where people are viewed as our greatest resource and the health and well-being of our members is paramount. I would like to thank Major-General Downes for his exemplary leadership in this role since 2017. It is a priviledge and an honour to lead this exceptional team of healthcare professionals.”
- Rear-Admiral Rebecca Patterson, incoming Commander of Canadian Forces Health Services Group
“I am honoured to take over as CAF Surgeon General and continue to work with this great team that I have learned to know and respect over the last several years. Time and time again, our Canadian Forces Health Services personnel rise to whatever challenges they are faced with and demonstrate their unwavering commitment to improve the health of our fellow CAF members. My predecessor Major-General Downes has set an excellent example over the past three years as an outstanding and professional leader. I plan to continue this positive momentum in the years to come in providing the best advice to improve health in support of CAF operational readiness.”
- Major-General Marc Bilodeau, incoming Surgeon General for the Canadian Armed Forces
“The time I have spent leading the Canadian Forces Health Services Group has been extremely rewarding thanks to the dedicated men and women that make up this team. It has been an honour for me to serve alongside them and witness their compassion and professionalism over the years. I will truly miss working with such an exceptional group of people. I know that Rear-Admiral Patterson and Major-General Bilodeau will provide the strong leadership needed to maintain the exceptional health services provided by our military health system.”
- Major-General Andrew Downes, outgoing Surgeon General and Commander of Canadian Forces Health Services Group
The Canadian Forces Health Services Group is responsible for providing health care to entitled CAF members wherever they serve, at home and abroad.
The Canadian Forces Health Services Group is responsive to the Chief of the Defence Staff and Commander Military Personnel Command on all health matters concerning CAF members and advises senior departmental authorities on significant clinical and health systems issues.
The Canadian Forces Health Services Group is responsible for making policy recommendations on all health matters related to CAF members in order to ensure safe, high-quality health care. It is the authority for health and health care programs, including policy, standards and procedures.
The Canadian Forces Health Services Group routinely liaises with other military and civilian health organizations, including ABCANZ, NATO and non-NATO countries, other government departments with health-related mandates, and civilian clinical, academic, professional, and regulatory health authorities.
The Canadian Forces Health Services Group includes a strategic headquarters in Ottawa in addition to several formation and units throughout the country: 1 Health Services Group in Edmonton, 4 Health Services Group in Montreal, and 1 Dental Unit in Ottawa in addition to several national level and subordinated units and detachments, including medical and dental clinics and Reserve and Regular Force field units as well as two schools.
Department of National Defence
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