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Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Care in Canada


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Roundtable Luncheon with Mary Deacon, Hon. Michael H. Wilson and Dr. Catherine Zahn
Tuesday, May 2, 2017 - 12:00 to 13:30
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Toronto ON, C.D. Howe Institute, 67 Yonge Street, Suite 300
  • Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Care in Canada

C.D. Howe Institute events are open to members and their guests. Members can register online by signing in here, or contacting cdhoweevents@cdhowe.org.

As the economic and quality of life costs of mental health become better understood, expanding access to its treatment has become part of the federal government’s priorities in the for the new health accord. Our expert panel will discuss the state of mental health care in Canada, and how services can be improved to ensure more consistent care.  


Mary Deacon, Chair, Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative

Mary Deacon is Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative, the largest-ever corporate initiative of its kind in Canada. In 2015, Bell extended its commitment to $100 million to support new mental health research, workplace best practices, improved care and access, and anti-stigma programs including Bell Let’s Talk Day -  a national day of conversation about mental health – that takes place each year.

Mary assumed her role as Chair after a long and successful career in the philanthropic sector. Over the last 25 year years she has held a series of senior positions in the not-for-profit sector including almost a decade as the inaugural President of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Foundation – Canada’s largest mental health hospital.

A passionate advocate and leader in the mental health community, Mary has an established track record of bringing people and ideas together for positive change.

Mary has a Bachelor of Arts degree and received the Queen Elizabeth ll Diamond Jubilee Medal. She also received the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris cause from the University of Guelph, for her pivotal leadership role in Canadian philanthropy, most notably in the field of mental health.

She resides in Toronto, Canada and has four children.  


Hon. Michael H. Wilson, Chairman, Barclays Capital Canada Inc., and Chairman of the Mental Health Commission of Canada

Michael Wilson is the Chairman of Barclays Capital Canada Inc. building on 37 years experience in the investment business.

Previously, Mr. Wilson was Canada’s 22nd Ambassador to the United States of America from March 13, 2006 to October 9, 2009.  Prior to taking up this position, Mr. Wilson was Chairman of UBS Canada, an operating division of UBS AG.

Before joining UBS in July 2001, Mr. Wilson was responsible for RBC Financial Group's Institutional Asset Management business and also served as a Vice Chairman of RBC Dominion Securities. 

Mr. Wilson was elected to the House of Commons in 1979.  In September 1984, he was appointed Minister of Finance.   In May 1991, he became Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Minister for International Trade.  During his tenure as a member of the Cabinet, Mr. Wilson had responsibility for the NAFTA negotiations and represented Canada at the G-7, IMF, World Bank, OECD, GATT and other international meetings.

Prior to his career in public life, Mr. Wilson's career was in investment banking with various responsibilities in corporate, government and international finance. He was also Director of a number of companies including BP plc and Manulife Financial.

Mr. Wilson is currently Chancellor of the University of Toronto and chairs the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.  He has been active in a number of professional and community organizations, including Brain Canada, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships and the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance. He has received a number of awards for his work in these fields, as well as from The Conference Board of Canada, The Public Policy Forum, The Rotman School of Business and The Canadian Club of Toronto.

Mr. Wilson is a Companion of the Order of Canada and has honorary degrees from the University of Toronto, University of Calgary, York University, Trinity College at the University of Toronto and the Royal Military College of Canada.

Mr. Wilson is married to Margie. They have two children and five grandchildren. He also finds time for golf and powder skiing.


Dr. Catherine Zahn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Dr. Zahn was appointed President and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in 2009.  CAMH is Canada’s leading mental health hospital and the country’s largest academic health science centre focused on mental illness.

She received her MD (honours) from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto (U of T), where she completed her residency training in neurology.  She holds an MSc in Health Administration from U or T and has completed the Directors’ Education Program at the U of T Rotman School of Management.  Dr. Zahn is a Professor in the U of T Faculty of Medicine and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.  She has made numerous contributions to health care in Ontario through her leadership in hospital integration, technology assessment and mental healthcare system improvement.

Recent honours include membership in the Order of Canada, Doctor of Laws degrees (honoris causa) from Western University, (London, Ontario) and Ryerson University, (Toronto, Ontario) and the Bryden Award for Outstanding Achievement (York University). The International Association of Business Communicators has also named her Communicator of the Year. Dr. Zahn serves on a number of health-care related boards and committees, as well as on the Board of Governors of Upper Canada College.

Dr. Zahn is a champion for the integration of psychiatry and neuroscience, passionately working to steer mental illness into the mainstream of healthcare, promoting equitable access to healthcare resources for people with mental illness.

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© 2018 C.D. Howe Institute. All Rights Reserved.