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
Dr. Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard (Chairperson)
Suzanne Dupuis-Blanchard, Ph.D., R.N., 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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)
- 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. Jean-Pierre Gagné
Jean-Pierre Gagné, Ph.D., is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018.
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
- 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
- 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
Mr. Jim Hamilton
Jim Hamilton is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018. The Governor in Council reappointed Mr. Hamilton for a term of 1 year, beginning on April 1, 2021.
Mr. Hamilton holds graduate degrees from the University of Oregon, in Therapeutic Recreation and in Public Policy and Management. For over 40 years, he has provided leadership and advocacy in building supportive and inclusive environments. He has led this work in Manitoba, Canada and internationally, to encourage healthy, active living.
- worked with the Manitoba Government and the University of Manitoba Centre on Aging
- provided leadership in addressing many of the complex, and often inter-related, issues associated with aging
- served as an advisor to the Public Health Agency of Canada and the World Health Organization
Mr. Hamilton continues to collaborate with governments, organizations and older people by:
- promoting healthy aging
- encouraging age-friendly environments, and
- addressing ageist attitudes
Dr. Martine Lagacé
Martine Lagacé, Ph.D., is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018. The Governor in Council reappointed Dr. Lagacé for a term of 1 year, beginning on June 25, 2020.
Dr. Lagacé has worked for 20 years on age-based prejudices, specifically the ins and outs of ageist stereotypes and discrimination.
- Associate professor in the Communications Department, University of Ottawa
- Researcher affiliated with the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa
- completed a Ph.D. in psychology in which she explored the psychosocial aspects of early retirement, using primarily the theories of relative deprivation and social identity
- conducted numerous studies, in Canada and internationally, on the subject of ageism, particularly with older workers, retirees and older patients
Notably, she has edited 2 collective works on the topic of ageism:
- L'âgisme : comprendre et changer le regard social sur le vieillissement (2010) [Ageism: Understanding and changing the social view of aging], and
- Représentations et discours sur le vieillissement : La face cachée de l'âgisme? (2015) [Depictions and discourse on aging: The hidden face of ageism?]
Dr. 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.
- 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
- shared his expertise with countless organizations including:
- United Way
- Health Sciences North
- Réseau Access Network
- Maison McCulloch Hospice, and
- St. John Ambulance
- received numerous national and international honours and awards. Most notably:
- Hospice Leadership Award
- Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, and
- Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee Medals
Mr. Omar Saad
Omar Saad 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.
- 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
- 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
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.
- 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
- justice, and
- employment/labour force
- 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
- diverse cultural groups
- First Nations
- people with mental and physical challenges, and
- the general public
Dr. Samir K. Sinha, MD, DPhil, FRCPC, AGSF
Dr. Samir Sinha, MD, DPhil, 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.
- 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
- Assistant Professor of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- a Fellow of the American Geriatrics Society
- 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
Nora Spinks is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018.
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.
- Chief Executive Officer of the Vanier Institute of the Family, where she has served her current role since 2011
- a nationally and internationally recognized leader and speaker
- 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, and
- 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, and
- Learning Partnership Volunteer of the Year Award
Ms. Cindy Starnino
Cindy Starnino is a member of the National Seniors Council since 2018. The Governor in Council reappointed Ms. Starnino for a term of 1 year beginning on June 25, 2020.
Ms. Starnino holds a Master's degree in Social Work from McGill University. She has over 30 years of experience in forging strong relationships between the world of practice and research. Her work focuses on developing cutting edge services in several areas including:
- prevention and health promotion programs for seniors, and
- intervention regarding the mistreatment of the elderly
- Director of Academic Affairs and Research Ethics of the Integrated Health and Social Services University Network for West-Central Montreal
- Co-Director of the Centre of Excellence on Longevity, McGill Integrated Health and Social Services University Network (RUISSS McGill)
- President of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Home Care Association
- Chair of the McGill University Integrated Health and Social Services Network Education Committee
- Member of the Quebec Provincial Table of Research
- Member of the Quebec Provincial Table of Teaching
- integrated university mission in several healthcare institutions
- co-created the Elder Mistreatment Helpline of Quebec (mandated by the Government of Quebec in 2010)
- held several strategic positions as:
- Director of Home and Senior Care
- Director of Quality, Performance and University Mission
- Associate Director of Inter-professional services
Dr. 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.
- a First Nations researcher and author with:
- personal knowledge of the Anishinabek ways of being and
- 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
- 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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