2021 Conference Highlights


The Carmelita Lawlor Lectureship in Palliative Care

Title: In the Shadow of the Pandemic: Where Do We Go from Here?

Recipient: Dr. Robert Sauls, MD

For the last year, the palliative care community, like so many of our colleagues in other areas of healthcare, have been operating in crisis mode. We have had to focus on the needs that are in front of us at the moment. This has often required rapid ad hoc planning and implementation to address those needs. This has occurred just as Ontario was beginning the transition to new structures for the organization of healthcare. As we emerge from the shadow of the pandemic and return to thinking about longer term planning for palliative care in Ontario, what will be different than before? What remains foundational? What new insights will lead to redefining how we implement system change? What will be the tensions we need to address?



Tuesday Keynote Panel Presentation: 

One Year Later: What Have We Learned About Hospice Palliative Care During a Pandemic

It’s time to take stock. It’s been 15 months since the first case of COVID-19 in Ontario. Two Emergencies were declared, and lockdown entered our common vocabulary along with “you are on mute”.

256,960 Ontarians have contracted COVID and 5,846 have died.  26.7% of the people who died were aged 60 or over. Long-term care homes represented 7.7% of cases in Ontario but 58.6% of deaths. (Public Health Ontario, Daily Epidemiologic Summary 2020-01-24) In July 2020, CIHI reported that 16.7% of cases were among health care workers.

Join our panel of health care experts to discuss what worked and what we have learned about dying and providing quality hospice palliative care during a pandemic. Hear about the panel’s experiences, insights, and surprises. How do we care for marginalized communities and those in long-term-care? How do we provide advance care planning and goals of care as well as psychosocial and spiritual support? How do we protect our colleagues physically and emotionally in times of crisis? What have we learned and what more must be done?


Dr. Naheed Dosani is a palliative care physician who cares for homeless and vulnerably housed individuals with dignity and compassion, whether in a shelter or on the street. He is the founder of the Palliative Education and Care for the Homeless (PEACH) Program based at the Inner City Health Associates in Toronto. PEACH delivers community-based hospice palliative care to society’s most vulnerable individuals regardless of their housing status or factors such as poverty or substance use. The program brings housing, mental health and healthcare providers together to plan an individual’s care while recognizing, but not judging, that person’s circumstances. This model of care has inspired similar programs in other cities across the continent and the world. He also serves as Medical Director of the Region of Peel’s COVID19 Housing/Isolation Program.

In February 2018, Dr. Dosani received a Meritorious Service Cross for humanitarianism from Governor General Julie Payette, for being a trailblazer in providing mobile end-of-life care for the homeless and those with unreliable housing. The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians recognized Dr. Dosani with a humanitarian award in May 2019. And finally, in 2020, the Canadian Medical Association awarded Dr Dosani with the Award for Young Leaders for his commitment to social justice in healthcare.

Dr. Sandy Buchman is a palliative care physician and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Division of Palliative Care at the University of Toronto and McMaster University. He is the Freeman Family Chair in Palliative Care and Medical Director of The Freeman Centre for the Advancement of Palliative Care at North York General. In 2019-2020, he served as President of the Canadian Medical Association and is also a past president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Ontario College of Family Physicians. From 2005-2019, he provided home-based palliative and end-of-life care with the Sinai Health System’s Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care and with the Palliative Care and Education for the Homeless (PEACH) Program of Inner City Health Associates in Toronto.  Sandy is a founder and medical lead of a new residential hospice, Neshama Hospice, currently being built in the Toronto Area. He is the 2020 recipient of the W. Victor Johnston Award by the College of Family Physicians of Canada. This award recognizes a renowned Canadian or international family medicine leader for continuous and enduring contributions to the specialty of family medicine in Canada or abroad.

Dr. Leah Steinberg studied public policy and philosophy at Tufts University. Her medical degree is in Family Medicine from McMaster University. She trained in palliative care and for the past 16 years has been a palliative care physician at Mount Sinai Hospital. She currently teaches palliative care to all level of learners and is involved in research in creating models for integrating palliative care into chronic disease management.

Dr. James Downar is a Critical Care and Palliative Care physician in Ottawa. He graduated from McGill Medical School and completed residency training in Internal Medicine, Critical Care and Palliative Care at the University of Toronto. He has a Master’s degree in Bioethics from the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto. He is currently the Head of the Division of Palliative Care at the University of Ottawa, and holds a Clinical Research Chair in Palliative and End of Life Care. He is the co-chair of the Pan-Canadian Palliative Care Research Collaborative and the Secretary of the Canadian Critical Care Society. He has authored more than 85 peer-reviewed publications, has been principal investigator on more than 20 peer-reviewed grants, and is a former Associated Medical Services Phoenix Fellow. His research interests include communication and decision-making for seriously ill patients and their families; Palliative Care for the Critically Ill; and Palliative Care for Noncancer Illnesses.

Dr. Denise Marshall has been affiliated with the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster  University  as a professor of Palliative Care since 1989. She has held several positions at McMaster including inaugural Director of the Division of Palliative Care, and Assistant Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.  She is founder of both the Niagara West Palliative Care Team and McNally House Hospice, Grimsby, where much of her clinical work has been located for the past 17 years. She explored Palliative Care as Public Health during her sabbatical in 2013 and since then,  has assumed new provincial and national leadership roles in Palliative Care.

Dr. Fred Mather is a Family Physician in Kitchener-Waterloo and Medical Director of Sunnyside Home, the municipal LTC facility for the Region of Waterloo. He is also attending physician at two homes operated by Revera Living. He has thirty-six years’ experience as a physician in long term care. Dr. Mather joined the Board of Directors of Ontario Long Term Physicians (OLTCP) in 2011. He was previously Chair of the Health Care of the Elderly Committee of the College of Family Physicians of Canada from 2004 to 2011. As a director, he developed the web site and introduced the awards for Long Term Physician of the Year and Special Recognition. Over the past two years, he was involved in the creation of the new not-for-profit, Ontario Long Term Care Clinicians (OLTCC). During the transition year, 2016, he served as President of OLTCP and Vice-President of OLTCC.

Dr. Mather believes the OLTCC must be the strong voice to the public, government and LTC stakeholders on behalf of physicians who practice long term care. He believes in inter-disciplinary and collaborative care and so welcomes the participation of other health care providers in the organization. “We are the experts in long term care and advocates for excellent care to the residents whom we look after.”