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Michael Decter resigns as Health Council chair

TORONTO – Health Council of Canada Vice Chair Dr. Jeanne Besner has agreed to serve as interim Chair following the resignation of founding Chair Michael Decter (pictured).

“I believe I have fulfilled the mandate I accepted three years ago, which was to be the Council’s Founding Chair. I’m proud of our achievements and very positive about the future potential of the Council,” Decter said. “It has been an educational, challenging and rewarding experience and a pleasure to collaborate with a great group of Councillors, drawn from all regions and walks of life, on our shared goal of accelerating healthcare renewal.”

Decter told reporters at a conference that he now intends to focus on environmental issues. He has been partly inspired by the example of former U.S. vice president Al Gore, who has been actively promoting solutions to environmental problems.

Decter spoke with Mr. Gore at a conference in Mont-Tremblant, Que. As Decter told the Globe and Mail: “I guess it came home to me, talking to Al Gore, and then listening to him. I figure, if things go well, I may have a couple of decades that would make an impact in a positive way before leaving my kids the planet.”

As a coda to his performance in the healthcare sector, Decter has a book coming out this fall with colleague and fellow expert Francesca Grosso on helping patients navigate the Canadian healthcare system.

Decter oversaw the start-up of the Health Council of Canada, the release of two major annual reports on the status of Canadian health care renewal, a summit on health human resources, numerous background papers and several special reports.

For her part, Dr. Jeanne Besner has been the Director, Research Initiatives in Nursing and Health with the Calgary Health Region since February 2001. She has served as a public health nurse and nurse practitioner in northern nursing stations, Provincial Nurse Epidemiologist, and Director of Public Health Nursing. She will offer to help the Council’s member governments select a new chair.

The Council also formally welcomed two new members and one returning member.

Dr. Stanley Vollant is the newly appointed director of the Aboriginal Program at the University of Ottawa’s School of Medicine. A Quebec surgeon and former president of the Quebec Medical Association, Vollant was the first Aboriginal Canadian to be named to the board of the Canadian Medical Association. He fills a vacancy in the Council left by the departure of Nellie Cournoyea.

Mike Shaw has served a number of senior positions in the Saskatchewan government and has been Associate Deputy Minister with Saskatchewan Health since 2003. He replaces Duncan Fisher as the Saskatchewan government representative on the Council.

Dr. Brian Postl returns to the Health Council of Canada from a leave of absence to work with the federal, provincial and territorial governments on wait times reduction. Postl is a pediatrician and community medicine physician as well as President and CEO of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

This month, the Council will be in Winnipeg for the release of a special report on the health of Canada’s children and youth. The report, entitled Their Future Is Now: Healthy Choices for Canada’s Children and Youth, as well as a video documentary on the topic, will be available at

The Health Council of Canada, created by the 2003 First Ministers’ Accord on Health Care Renewal following the recommendations of the Romanow and Kirby reports, is mandated to monitor and report on the progress of healthcare renewal in Canada.

The 26 Councillors were appointed by the participating provinces, territories and the Government of Canada and have expertise and broad experience in community care, Aboriginal health, nursing, health education and administration, finance, medicine and pharmacy.