Members of the National Seniors Council

Members of the National Seniors Council (NSC) have experience or expertise on seniors and aging issues. For example, these individuals:

  • volunteer or work for organizations that represent the interests of seniors
  • conduct research or teach in academic institutions focusing on seniors issues, or
  • are seniors themselves

The NSC can have up to 12 members, including the Chairperson. The terms of members range from 1 to 3 years and are renewable once. Appointments are staggered. This is to ensure balancing continuity and the desire to provide new perspectives on the NSC’s work.

The Governor in Council appoints members on the recommendation of the Minister of Seniors and the Minister of Health.

The selection process is open, transparent and merit-based. Interested candidates should visit the Government of Canada’s Governor in Council appointments website. On this site, candidates can:

  • view appointment opportunities
  • create, build and update their account profile, and
  • submit their application

Current members

Dr. Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard (Chairperson)

photo of Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard

Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, R.N., Ph.D., DSL (Hon.), is a member and the Chairperson of the National Seniors Council since 2017. The Governor in Council reappointed Dr. Dupuis-Blanchard for a term of 2 years, beginning December 14, 2020.

Dr. Dupuis-Blanchard has 30 years of experience in community health nursing and gerontology. Her program of research includes the diverse aspects of aging in place.

She is:

  • Research Chair in Population Aging of the Consortium national de formation en santé, Université de Moncton
  • Full Professor at the School of Nursing, Université de Moncton
  • Director of the Centre on Aging, Université de Moncton

She also:

  • serves as the immediate Past President of the Canadian Association on Gerontology (2014 to 2018)
  • co-chaired the New Brunswick Council on Aging (2016 to 2017) responsible for developing the provincial strategy on aging

She received:

  • the Award of Merit in Research by the Nurses Association of New Brunswick
  • the 150 Nurses for Canada Award from the Canadian Nurses Association to mark the 150th anniversary of the Confederation

Ms. Joan Marie Aylward

photo of Joan Marie Aylward

Joan Marie Aylward is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018. The Governor in Council reappointed Ms. Aylward for a term of 2 years, beginning on September 7, 2020.

Ms. Aylward is a nurse by training.

She is:

  • Vice Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board
  • appointed to the Health Accord NL (Task Force on Health Care) as Chair of the Aging Population Committee (October 2020 to December 2021)

She was:

  • Executive Director of St. Patrick’s Mercy Home (a 210-bed nursing home)
  • an elected member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly (1996 to 2011) and served as:
    • Minister of Human Resources and Employment
    • Minister of Health and Community Services
    • Minister Responsible for Seniors
    • Minister of Finance
    • President of Treasury Board

Ms. Aylward lived in a multigenerational family in Newfoundland and Labrador. She worked closely with and advocating for seniors, veterans, their families, and community groups. Her experience strengthened her lifelong interest in aging and its associated opportunities and challenges.

Dr. Carole A. Estabrooks

photo of Carole A. Estabrooks

Carole Estabrooks, RN, Ph.D., FCAN, is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2022.

Dr. Estabrooks is an applied health services researcher focusing on knowledge translation and aging. Dr. Estabrooks is leading a longitudinal research program to develop solutions for improving the quality of care and quality of life or end-of-life for nursing home residents. The study also examines ways to enrich the work life of caregivers and for enhancing system efficiencies and effectiveness.

She is:

  • a tier 1 Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Knowledge Translation from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • a professor with the Faculty of Nursing and a cross-appointed professor with the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health
  • a member of the Health Standards Organization (HSO) Technical Committee developing national standards for long-term care

She has:

  • a postdoctoral fellowship, from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and the University of Toronto
  • a doctorate in Philosophy, from the University of Alberta
  • a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, from the University of Alberta
  • participated as a board member on various committees
  • received numerous awards, such as the:
    • Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) Fellowship in 2020
    • International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame in 2018
    • Order of Canada (Member) in 2016
    • American Academy of Nursing in 2011
    • Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2007

Dr. Jean-Pierre Gagné

photo of Jean-Pierre Gagné

Jean-Pierre Gagné, Ph.D., is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018. The Governor in Council reappointed Mr. Gagné for a term of 1 year, beginning on August 6, 2021.

Dr. Gagné’s research interests are in the area of rehabilitation for people with hearing loss. His research incorporates investigations on the stigma associated with hearing loss among seniors as well as ageism. He also studies the effects of hearing loss associated with aging on social participation.

He has a particular interest in ageism and promoting the social participation of seniors. He studies the psychosocial consequences people can experience, such as:

  • communication problems, and
  • psychosocial adaptation problems associated with aging

He is:

  • Professor Emeritus at the École d'orthophonie et d'audiologie, Université de Montréal
  • Holder of the Endowed Chair of the Fondation Caroline Durand en audition et vieillissement de l’Université de Montréal, since 2017
  • Director of the Hearing and Aging Laboratory at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal Research Centre

He was:

  • honoured by the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology for contributions to the field of rehabilitation of people with hearing loss (2014)
  • involved in international work led by the World Health Organization focusing on the experiences of people with adult-onset hearing loss

Dr. Réjean Hébert, MD

photo of Réjean Hébert

Réjean Hébert, MD, Ph.D., is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2022.

Mr. Hébert is a geriatrician with Montréal’s regional public health department.  He is also a full professor with the Department of Health Management, Evaluation and Policy at Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health. His work focuses on public policy and the coordination of health services in the context of chronic diseases, through home support, front-line services and service integration.

He was:

  • the dean of Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health from 2017 to 2019
  • a professor in the Department of Family Medicine of the Université de Sherbrooke’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences for 30 years. He served as dean of that faculty from 2004 to 2010
  • elected as a member of Quebec’s National Assembly in September 2012
  • the Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister Responsible for Seniors, and Minister Responsible for the Estrie Region from 2012 to 2014

He has:

  • a medical degree in geriatrics from the University of Sherbrooke and a degree in gerontology from the University of Social Sciences of Grenoble
  • a Master of Philosophy in Epidemiology from the University of Cambridge
  • conducted numerous research studies on gerontology, such as the Functional Autonomy Measurement System and the Program on Research for Integrating Services for the Maintenance of Autonomy
  • founded and directed the following organizations:
    • the Research Centre on Aging at the Sherbrooke Geriatric University Institute
    • the Quebec Network for Research on Aging
    • the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Institute of Aging

Mrs. Linda Jeffrey

photo of Linda Jeffrey

Linda Jeffrey is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2021.

Mrs. Jeffrey has extensive experience in the public service, both at the municipal and provincial levels. She is also involved in projects regarding autism spectrum disorder and health and safety in the workplace.

She is:

  • Executive Director of the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association

She was:

  • City Councillor for the City of Brampton from 1991 to 2003
  • Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for the Brampton Springdale and Brampton Centre ridings from 2003 to 2014 and served as:
    • Minister of Natural Resources
    • Minister Responsible for Seniors
    • Minister of Labour
    • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Mayor of the City of Brampton from 2014 to 2018

While serving as Minister Responsible for Seniors, she has:

  • had all retirement homes and nursing care homes in Ontario equipped with residential sprinklers
  • created new provincial licensing rules targeting retirement homes in Ontario suspected of elder abuse and neglect through the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority

In 2012, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for public service.

Dr. Kevin McCormick

photo of Kevin McCormick

Kevin McCormick, Ph.D., is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2019.

Dr. McCormick has an esteemed career in academia, is a philanthropist, community leader and dedicated humanitarian. Dr. McCormick’s current research interests focus on seniors and aging populations, especially in the Armed Forces and with Veterans.

He is:

  • President and Vice Chancellor of Huntington University
  • Champion of the University’s Gerontology Program
  • Honorary Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada
  • Founding President of the Peruvian Canadian Institute

He has:

  • shared his expertise with countless organizations including:
    • United Way
    • Health Sciences North
    • Réseau Access Network
    • Maison McCulloch Hospice
    • St. John Ambulance
  • received numerous national and international honours and awards. Most notably:
    • Hospice Leadership Award
    • Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship
    • Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee Medals

Mr. Omar Saad

photo of Omar A. Saad

Omar Saad, BSc. Pharm., MBT, is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2019.

Mr. Saad has over 15 years of experience providing pharmacy services and leadership expertise in a variety of health care environments. Mr. Saad brings exemplary ethics and integrity to his pharmacy practice and to seniors care in Canada.

He is:

  • Pharmacist with a Masters in Biomedical Technology from the University of Calgary
  • Member of the Disciplinary Committee with the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia
  • Vice President, Strategy and Innovation with CareRx Corporation, a leading provider of pharmacy services to seniors

He has:

  • overseen medication management programs at residential care facilities and ensured crucial training for patient safety
  • delivered innovative, seniors-focused programs such as falls prevention and influenza preparedness services
  • worked in partnership with numerous seniors’ community organizations and stakeholder groups to improve the quality of life and care for seniors
  • worked as a former member of the Ethics Advisory Committee with the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia

Ms. Zena Simces

photo of Zena Simces

Zena Simces is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2021.

Ms. Simces is a senior consultant with over 30 years of experience in managing complex projects and acting as a change agent. She has worked at the national, provincial and community levels in New Brunswick, Ontario, and British Columbia. Many of her projects have focused on improving the health and well-being of seniors.

She is:

  • an engaging, motivating leader who takes an inclusive, collaborative approach to everything she does
  • experienced and engaged in work to advance policy issues in a number of sectors including:
    • population and public health, primary care and mental health
    • social services
    • education
    • justice
    • employment/labour force

She has:

  • a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from Queen’s University
  • a master’s degree in Sociology from the University of New Brunswick
  • written and published a book, You Can Make A Difference: A Guide to Being A Great Consultant. The book refers to her experience and research. The book proposes ways for managers and leaders to make a difference in today's complex world
  • facilitated numerous consultation sessions engaging various key and targeted groups within the Canadian population including:
    • women, youth, families, and seniors
    • community organizations
    • academics
    • diverse cultural groups
    • First Nations
    • people with mental and physical challenges
    • the general public

Dr. Samir K. Sinha, MD, DPhil

photo of Samir K. Sinha

Dr. Samir Sinha, MD, DPhil, FRCPC, AGSF, is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2021.

Dr. Sinha is a passionate and respected advocate for the needs of older adults. He has a breadth of international training and expertise in health policy and the delivery of care services to the elderly. This has made him a highly regarded expert in the care of older adults.

He is:

  • a Rhodes Scholar
  • Director of Geriatrics of Sinai Health System and the University Health Network, Toronto
  • the Peter and Shelagh Godsoe Chair in Geriatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Director of Health Policy Research at the National Institute on Ageing, Ryerson University
  • Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto
  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • a Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society

He has:

  • completed undergraduate medical studies at the University of Western Ontario
  • obtained a Masters in Medical History and a Doctorate in Sociology at the University of Oxford’s Institute of Ageing
  • pursued his postgraduate training in Internal Medicine at the University of Toronto and in Geriatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Ms. Nora Spinks

photo of Nora Sprinks

Nora Spinks is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018. The Governor in Council reappointed Ms. Spinks for a term of 2 years, beginning on July 1, 2021.

For over 30 years, Ms. Spinks has engaged the research community to mobilize knowledge. She also connects those who study, serve and support Canada’s diverse families.

She is:

  • a nationally and internationally recognized leader and speaker

She was:

  • the Chief Executive Officer of the Vanier Institute of the Family for ten years (2011 to 2021)

She has:

  • helped develop a variety of federal, provincial, community and corporate programs. Most of these have focused on employee health and well-being, family care, workplace flexibility and work-life harmony
  • created Canada’s first national eldercare resource and referral service, now delivered through workplaces across the country
  • led and been a partner on many national projects including Caregiving and Work
  • participated in and hosted many roundtables on:
    • seniors and aging
    • older workers
    • family care leaves
    • work and family
  • received numerous awards, such as the:
    • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
    • Canada 125 Award for Exemplary Community Service
    • Workplace Wellness Pioneer of the Year Award
    • Learning Partnership Volunteer of the Year Award

Dr. Pamela Williamson

photo of Pamela Williamson

Pamela Williamson, Ph.D., is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2021.

Dr. Williamson has a particular interest in elder-specific research. She has extensive experience in community primary healthcare, including as the Executive Director of the Noojmowin Teg Health Centre. She has also championed a number of initiatives and programs in support of the health and well-being of Indigenous elders.

She is:

  • a First Nations researcher and author with:
    • personal knowledge of the Anishinabek ways of being
    • a solid understanding of the issues and challenges experienced by Northerners
  • a board member of the Health Sciences North Research Institute
  • a member of a provincial indigenous circle with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health

She has:

  • a doctorate in Higher Education, Administration, from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto
  • a master’s degree in Higher Education/Higher Education Administration from Central Michigan University
  • served as a board member with a number of organizations
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