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Meet the federal COVID 19 Leadership team

In addition to the daily briefings given by Prime Minister Trudeau from Rideau college there is a daily COVID 19 briefing by the Deputy Prime Minister, the Health Minister and the Head of the Public Health Agency of Canada. Following are the biographies of these three officials.

Christina Alexandra “Chrystia” Freeland  PC MP (born August 2, 1968) is a Canadian writer, journalist, and politician who is serving as the tenth Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and thirteenth Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs since 2019. She served as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2017 to 2019, and Minister of International Trade from 2015 to 2017.

She worked in a variety of editorial positions at the Financial Times, The Globe and Mail and Thomson Reuters (where she was the managing director and editor for consumer news), before announcing her intention to run for the Liberal Party nomination in the by-election to replace Bob Rae as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre. After winning the Liberal nomination on September 15, 2013, she was elected to parliament in the November 25, 2013 by-election. Appointed to the Cabinet of Canada as Minister of International Trade on November 4, 2015, Freeland was named that month as one of Toronto’s 50 most influential by Toronto Life magazine. On January 10, 2017, Freeland was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, succeeding Stéphane Dion. She served through the end of the First Trudeau Ministry and was replaced by Francois-Philippe Champagne following the 2019 Canadian Federal Election.

Freeland is the author of Sale of the Century, a 2000 book about Russia’s journey from communism to capitalism[4] and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else in 2012. Plutocrats was the winner of the 2013 Lionel Gelber Prize for non-fiction reporting on foreign affairs. It also won the 2013 National Business Book Award for the most outstanding Canadian business-related book.

Her father, Donald Freeland, was a farmer and lawyer and a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, and her mother, Halyna (Chomiak) Freeland (1946–2007), was also a lawyer who ran for election in Edmonton Strathcona in the 1988 federal election, representing the New Democratic Party.

Freeland’s mother, Halyna Chomiak, was born at a hospital administered by the US Army; her parents were staying at the displaced persons camp at a spa resort in Bad Wörishofen, Germany. Halyna’s Ukrainian Catholic parents were Mykhailo Khomiak (Anglicized as Michael Chomiak), born in Stroniatyn, Galicia, and Alexandra (Loban) Chomiak, originally of Rudniki, near Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk).[9][13] As Ukraine experienced democratic backsliding from the 1990s, Freeland, who grew up in Alberta, saw “firsthand” the consequences of her mother’s activism as a “prominent member of the Ukrainian Canadian community.”

Freeland attended Old Scona Academic High School in Edmonton, Alberta for two years before attending the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, on a merit scholarship from the Alberta government for a project that sought to promote international peace and understanding. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian history and literature from Harvard University and a Master of Studies degree in Slavonic Studies from St Antony’s College, Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1993.

Freeland started her journalism career as a stringer for the Financial Times, The Washington Post and The Economist while working in Ukraine. Freeland later worked for the Financial Times in London as a deputy editor, and then as an editor for its weekend edition,, and UK news. Freeland also served as Moscow bureau chief and Eastern Europe correspondent for the Financial Times.

From 1999 to 2001 Freeland served as the deputy editor of The Globe and Mail. Next she worked as the managing director and editor of consumer news at Thomson Reuters. She was also a weekly columnist for the Globe and Mail. Previously she was editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, a position she held since April 2011. Prior to that she was the global editor-at-large of Reuters news since March 1, 2010, having formerly been the United States managing editor at the Financial Times, based in New York City.

Freeland is the author of Sale of the Century, a 2000 book about Russia’s journey from communism to capitalism and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else in 2012.Plutocrats was a New York Times bestseller, and the winner of the 2013 Lionel Gelber Prize for non-fiction reporting on foreign affairs. It also won the 2013 National Business Book Award for the most outstanding Canadian business-related book.

On July 26, 2013, Freeland left journalism to enter Canadian politics as a candidate for the nomination of the Liberal Party in the riding of Toronto Centre. On September 15, 2013 she won the nomination,[32] with an opportunity to replace outgoing MP Bob Rae in the November 25, 2013 by-election. During the campaign she received criticism for purchasing a 1.3 million dollar home, although the price was consistent with Toronto’s home prices. Freeland won 49% of the vote and was elected.

For her active support of Ukranian Independence, Freeland was one of thirteen Canadians banned from travelling to Russia under retaliatory sanctions imposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2014.

On November 4, 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau chose Freeland as Minister of International Trade. Freeland was involved in negotiations leading up to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), between Canada and the European Union, former PM Stephen Harper’s “legacy project”. CETA is Canada’s “biggest trade deal since NAFTA”.[14][45] After it was signed October 30, 2016, Freeland made comments about “building bridges and not building walls”.

In a Cabinet reshuffle on January 10, 2017, Freeland was appointed to the position of Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, replacing Stéphane Dion. On March 6, 2017, together with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Freeland announced Canada’s military training mission in Ukraine would be extended until March 2019, maintaining the 200 soldiers previously mandated by the Harper government.

In April 18, 2019, she was ranked 37th among the world’s leading leaders in Fortune Magazine’s annual list.

Following the 2019 Canadian federal election, Freeland was promoted to Deputy Prime Minister of Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. Sources in Ottawa say Prime Minister Trudeau has transferred a good deal of decision making to Freeland. Unlike previous Deputy PM’s Freeland has offices in the Langevin Block where the Prime Minister is located. She has significant staff resources and is consulted on most major matters originating from her fellow cabinet ministers. 

 Patricia A. Hajdu PC MP, born November 3, 1966) is a Canadian Liberal politician, who was elected to represent the riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North in the House of Commons of Canada in the 2015 federal election. Since November 2019, she has been the Minister of Health in the federal Cabinet. Previous to this, she was the Minister of Status of Women and Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour.

Born in Montreal, she spent her early years in Chisholm, Minnesota, raised by her aunt and uncle. Her Hungarian last name comes from her stepfather.

At 12 years old, Hajdu moved to Thunder Bay to live with her mother. Due to a tumultuous relationship, she ended up living on her own at age 16, attempting to finish high school. After graduating high school, she got a job in Thunder Bay through an employment-insurance initiative, at a non-profit adult-literacy group, where she trained in graphic design.

Hajdu then attended Lakehead University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts. In 2015, she received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Victoria.

Hajdu worked mainly in the field of harm prevention, homelessness, and substance misuse prevention, including nine years as the head of the drug awareness committee of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit. She also worked as a creative director and graphic designer in marketing. Prior to her election in 2015 she was the executive director at Shelter House, the city’s largest homeless shelter.

On November 4, 2015, she was appointed the Minister of Status of Women in the federal Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[8] In this capacity, she convened in July 2016 an advisory council to help develop of Canada’s strategy against gender-based violence.[9] She was sworn in as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour on January 10, 2017.

On October 29, 2018, Minister Hajdu, alongside Status of Women Minister Maryam Monsef and President of the Treasury Board and Minister for Digital Government Scott Brison introduced proactive pay equity legislation for federally regulated workplaces, which ensures that women are fairly compensated for the work that they do. This legislation will ensure that all federally regulated employers examine their compensation practices to reflect equal pay for work of equal value for both men and women.

Hajdu was shuffled to Minister of Health in the Trudeau government following the 2019 federal election. As Minister of Health, Hajdu oversees the Department of Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, key agencies coordinating the Canadian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Theresa Tam was named Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer on June 26, 2017. She is a physician with expertise in immunization, infectious disease, emergency preparedness and global health security.

Dr. Tam obtained her medical degree from the University of Nottingham in the U.K. She completed her paediatric residency at the University of Alberta and her fellowship in paediatric infectious diseases at the University of British Columbia. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and has over 55 peer-reviewed journal publications in public health. She is also a graduate of the Canadian Field Epidemiology Program.

Dr. Tam has held several senior leadership positions at the Public Health Agency of Canada, including as the Deputy Chief Public Health Officer and the Assistant Deputy Minister for Infectious Disease Prevention and Control. During her 20 years in public health, she provided technical expertise and leadership on new initiatives to improve communicable disease surveillance, enhance immunization programs, strengthen health emergency management and laboratory biosafety and biosecurity. She has played a leadership role in Canada’s response to public health emergencies including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), pandemic influenza H1N1 and Ebola.

Dr. Tam has served as an international expert on a number of World Health Organization committees and has participated in multiple international missions related to SARS, pandemic influenza and polio eradication.

For more information on the Public Health Agency of Ontario

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