The Ministry of Health has confirmed that Cathy Fooks, Ontario’s Patient Ombudsman, has died.
Named as the new voice of Ontario patients back in June, Fooks assumed the role on July 13 for a five-year term bringing with her more than three decades of experience and advocacy.
“As with everything she did during her notable career, Cathy took this role to heart, making every effort to ensure all voices were not just heard, but were listened to,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.
“On behalf of the Government of Ontario, I extend my sincere condolences to the family, friends, and all those mourning the passing of Cathy."
During her short time in the role, Fooks was responsible for investigating complaints about hospitals, long-term care homes and home and community care while also making recommendations to the government to prevent issues from reoccurring.
It's with deep sadness we announce the tragic passing of Cathy Fooks, our Patient Ombudsman. We are sharing a message approved by Cathy's family https://t.co/kdI76bYkSx— Patient Ombudsman (@patientombuds) December 31, 2020
In October, her office made a series of recommendations to deal with a resurgence of COVID-19 in Ontario's long-term care system. Enhancing whistleblower protections, improving communications and overhauling the visitation system were among the suggestions included in the office's preliminary report.
She previously served as the executive director of the Health Council of Canada.
Officials said that Fooks died as a result of a "tragic accident" but provided no further details.