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Ontario Appoints Special Advisor to Develop Health Data Platform

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Ontario Appoints Special Advisor to Develop Health Data Platform

New tool will help researchers detect, plan and respond to COVID-19

Ministry of Health

TORONTO — The Ontario government has appointed Dr. Jane Philpott as the special advisor to support the design and implementation of the new Ontario Health Data Platform (formerly known as PANTHR). This data platform will provide recognized researchers and health system partners with access to anonymized health data that will allow them to better detect, plan, and respond to COVID-19. As well, this platform will support projects from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.

"Dr. Philpott has extensive leadership experience in the health care system and her advice will be invaluable as we finalize the creation of the Ontario Health Data Platform," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "This data platform will provide our world-class researchers and health system partners with secure access to better and more consistent population data, improving decision-making in health care and aiding our efforts to beat COVID-19."

The Ontario Health Data Platform is being developed in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner. The information gathered will help break down long-standing barriers and allow researchers to help with:

  • Increasing detection of COVID-19;
  • Discovering risk factors for vulnerable populations;
  • Predicting when and where outbreaks may happen;
  • Evaluating how preventative and treatment measures are working; and
  • Identifying where to allocate equipment and other resources.

As special advisor, Dr. Philpott will also chair the Joint Ministers' Roundtable and provide recommendations to the Minister of Health and the President of the Treasury Board. The members of the Joint Ministers' Roundtable include public health, research, privacy and clinical experts. Together, they will provide strong proactive leadership to ensure data is used in a privacy-protected way. The roundtable will participate in a consultation forum that will inform the development of the platform.

"As special advisor and chair of the joint ministers' roundtable, Dr. Philpott will provide critical insight to support the design and implementation of this secure data platform," said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board. "The Ontario Health Data Platform will be a powerful tool that will help us better understand COVID-19, how it spreads and the most effective means of combatting it."

"Whether on the frontlines of health care or as a medical educator or in this new role as special advisor, I'm honoured to be part of Ontario's fight against COVID-19," said Dr. Philpott. "This integrated data platform is an essential element in the province's response to the pandemic. I look forward to watching how it will facilitate a broad range of health research and support quality improvements in clinical care." 

"My good friend Dr. Philpott is an extraordinarily accomplished public servant," said the Honourable Paul Calandra, MPP for Markham-Stouffville. "I know she will bring an incredible depth of experience and dedication to this role."

Quick Facts

  • Dr. Philpott is a physician, academic, administrator and former Canadian politician who served as the Minister of Health, Minister of Indigenous Services and President of the Treasury Board in the federal government. She has executive experience in public health, medicine, academic administration, fiscal administration, health administration and public service. Beginning July 1, she will be the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen’s University.
  • Working in consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, the Ontario Health Data Platform will hold secure data that will allow researchers and clinical decision-makers to better support health system planning and responsiveness, including the need to analyze the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Researchers can begin to access the platform in July 2020.
  • The Ontario government is investing $20 million through the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund to support COVID-19 research by tapping into the expertise of Ontario’s colleges and universities, research institutions and non-profit scientific partners.
  • Ontario is committed to ensuring that government use of artificial intelligence and similar technologies has a strong, clear framework for transparent and appropriate use. Ontarians are encouraged to share their feedback on the framework by posting comments on the province’s draft guidelines.

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