The Trent University community is saddened to learn of the passing of alumna Cathy Fooks ’79. Appointed Ontario’s patient ombudsman in July, Ms. Fooks was one of Trent’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, a student mentor, and a founding member of the Community for Trent Women. She graduated from Trent with a degree in political science and economics.
“Cathy was a generous and talented mentor and leader,” said Lee Hays, director of Alumni Affairs at Trent. “We send sincere condolences to Cathy’s family and loved ones. She will be immensely missed.”
As patient ombudsman for Ontario, Ms. Fooks was responsible for providing support for Ontarians with concerns about their health care experiences. Her role also involved investigating complaints relating to hospitals, long-term and community care, and providing recommendations to the provincial government.
Prior to being patient ombudsman, Ms. Fooks served as president and CEO of The Change Foundation and was the first executive director of the Health Council of Canada. She also held various executive positions with Canadian Policy Research Networks, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Ms. Fooks was also the author of several articles and reports on the Canadian health care system.
A statement posted to the Patient Ombudsman website states: “Cathy was a forward-thinking leader in Ontario’s health care sector. Among other accomplishments, Cathy pushed through barriers to make meaningful improvements to the patient and family caregiver experience.”
Below is an excerpt from the obituary notice:
Cathy was a remarkably talented, charming and straightforward person and a generous leader and mentor in the health sector in Ontario and nationally. In her distinguished 30+ year career in public health, Cathy served as Executive Director of the Health Council of Canada and held senior positions with the Canadian Policy Research Network, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (now IC/ES). Earlier this year, Cathy stepped down as CEO of The Change Foundation where she had worked passionately to improve the lives of patients, caregivers and providers. In June 2020, Cathy assumed the important role of Ontario's Patient Ombudsman. Her first report in that role was a siren call for reform in long-term care homes. Throughout her career, Cathy was an insistent trailblazer who broke through longstanding system barriers and outdated norms to ensure meaningful change in the care that individuals receive. Brilliant, a whiz in the kitchen, and the fierce protector of her loved ones, Cathy will be deeply missed by her loving family, many friends and close circle of confidants.
Trent University extends heartfelt sympathies to Ms. Fooks’ family and friends, and to all who knew her at Trent University.