2021 Agenda



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December 08, 2021

09:20 AM

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09:20 AM

Opening Remarks

Philip De Souza
Director, Communications and Marketing

Jennifer Schipper
Founder and President
Arc Communications

09:30 AM

Opening Keynote

Health Communications During Covid-19: Best Practices From Around The World

Drawing on research of nine countries on five continents, we suggest the best principles for health communications during a pandemic. We show the wide variety of pandemic communications responses and evaluate which have seemed most effective in the long run. We also consider how pandemic communications interact with democracy and democratic health too.

Session Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will improve their understanding of different approaches to health communications around the world, particularly beyond Europe and North America.
  • Participants will receive concrete policy suggestions for how to improve health communications practices and infrastructures.

Dr. Heidi Tworek
Associate Professor in International History and Public Policy
University of British Columbia,Vancouver Campus
Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation
Non-Resident Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States
Non-Resident Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Co-Editor, Journal of Global History

10:20 AM

Session 1A

Strategic Communication Solutions for Rural, Remote, or Digitally Challenged Patients

Communicators have multiple tools to send critical information to patients, from digital channels to print and cable. However, it is a challenge to connect with populations in rural and remote areas with fewer services for receiving information, such as reliable broadband and cell service. However, the same challenges occur in urban areas, particularly with older patients who are intentionally disconnected from the internet. To communicate critical information to these groups, communicators require a different strategy to achieve success.

Session Learning Objectives Include:

  • Establish best practices in connecting with patients and caregivers who can’t, or won’t, connect digitally
  • Create an action plan that can motivate patients and caregivers to engage across different platforms seamlessly
  • Build community engagement and reinforce your organization’s communication goals

Ashley Materi
Senior Communications Advisor
Indigenous Services Canada, Ontario Region

10:20 AM

Session 1B

Communicating Gender Diversity: An Introduction to 2SLGBTQIA+ Affirming Communications

With visibility for transgender (trans) communities increasing, the need for health care organizations to provide affirmative care has become more pressing. The lack of existing care has become increasingly apparent and organizations need to better understand and communicate the diversity of gender. This session will provide participants with an introduction to the diversity of trans patient needs in a variety of health care settings. Starting with an overview of key concepts around gender diversity, participants will develop an understanding of the journeys and challenges trans and gender diverse community members face in accessing health care. A key feature of this session will be practical advice on how to change communication practices at the individual and institutional level.

Session Learning Objectives Include:

  • Critical introductions to the diversity of trans and gender diverse identities
  • Recognition of best practices in communicating about gender identity
  • Strategies for changing communications practices at the individual and institutional level
  • Tactical resources to becoming trans affirmative

Kirk Furlotte
Regional Manager, Atlantic Canada
Community-Based Research Centre (CBRC)

Garry Dart
CATTC, HBSc, HBA He/She/They
Primary Health Coordinator, prideHealth
Nova Scotia Health Authority

11:00 AM

Networking Break

11:10 AM

Session 2

Networking & Success and Strategy Information Sharing Session

If you would like to showcase one piece that you or your team has created, that you are proud of please do so by December 1st. Each registrant will be in groups to discuss these pieces and ask questions about them. Send the piece by December 1st and be ready to speak on it in smaller groups.

Those who send something by December 1st will be entered into a draw for one of three $25 visa gift cards. These will be posted on the conference hub for all registrants to learn from.


Philip De Souza
Director, Communications and Marketing

11:50 AM

Session 3A

Successfully Deploying Online Collaboration Tools to Heighten Learning Engagement for Health Care Providers

Effective collaboration among health care providers is essential for knowledge transfer and improving patient outcomes.

Covid-19 forced many to shift to digital options, but historically this is not that unusual for many collaborative relationships, in part due to geographic distances and time constraints. However, the concerns around stakeholder engagement, especially in a digital realm are often a challenge. Improve your stakeholder engagement and collaboration through examples from ECHO. Learn how they forged a humorous, and educational learning event that brought together physicians, specialists, administrators and others.

Session Learning Objectives Include:

  • Priming your audience to the event ahead of time to heighten motivation
  • Creating substantive and engaging learning objectives and outcomes, including learning credits
  • Structuring the event to ensure it is fun, engaging, and relevant to your audience

Deiren Masterson
Digital Specialist
SickKids Learning Institute, Paediatric Project ECHO

Alyssa Gumapac
Communications Specialist
SickKids Learning Institute, Paediatric Project ECHO

11:50 AM

Session 3B

Internal Communication and Team Building: Strategies and Lessons Learned During Covid-19

Delivering timely and powerful communication among team members became even more important during Covid-19. While it has always been a challenge to engage with physicians and other front-line staff, Covid certainly heightened the challenges all health care communicators faced.

Join us for this exclusive discussion as we highlight the initiatives and successes your peers have implemented in their organizations.

Session Learning Objectives Include:

  • How to better engage physicians and the positive role huddles can play in communications
  • Overcoming the gossip pathway to deliver timely and accurate information
  • Deliver customized content through a blog-styled post that addresses new directives
  • How to change the narrative to highlight the positive
  • Create positive content to address the psycho-social needs of staff
  • How to incorporate humour into your messages to combat mental health issues and staff burnout

Brenda Catchpole
Chief Administrative Officer (Retired)
Victoria General Hospital (Winnipeg)

12:25 PM

Lunch & Networking

01:00 PM

Session 4A

Patient and Family Communication: How to Ensure Patients Understand How and Where to Access Services

Patient communication requires careful consideration. Patients often have to navigate a complex health system, leaving them and their care givers confused.

It is therefore vital for health care organizations to have handbooks that help patients, families, and caregivers navigate their own care journey and to empower them to be more active and involved in their care.

Session Learning Objectives Include:

  • Convey clear and easy to understand patient journey expectations
  • Educate patients and care givers on how to take control of their health
  • Focus on the goal of improving both patient healthcare experiences and outcomes
  • Ensure better utilization of health care resources by directing them to the correct services

Mark Weir
Director of Strategic Planning and Community Engagement
Woodstock General Hospital

Maureen Ross
Member, Oxford and Area Ontario Health Team
Member, Woodstock Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Committee

01:00 PM

Session 4B

Case Study: Ottawa Public Health Breaking Through the Noise: Strategies and Solutions for Effective Social Media Communications

Social media is full of noise, especially in a pandemic. The first step towards engaging with an audience must always be capturing their attention. Our entire social media strategy is audience-first. We listen, then we talk, and then we listen again. Join Kevin Parent and Amanda Higginson from the Ottawa Public Health social media team to discuss strategic health communication solutions that will break through the noise and reach your target audiences.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Deliver accurate and transparent health information using crisis communication strategies
  • Deploy social media more effectively to engage your targeted community
  • Develop your own brand and voice on social media to demonstrate authenticity

Kevin Parent
Public Health Program & Project Management Officer
Ottawa Public Health

Amanda Higginson
Public Health Project Officer
Ottawa Public Health

01:50 PM

Session 5A

Case Study: “Nutcases and Animals”: The Presence, Power, and Danger of Mental Health Stigma

Forensic mental health is one of the least understood parts of our mental health system. Deep misinformation and stigma exists about people who are deemed not criminally responsible for their crimes. In the summer of 2019, CAMH, Canada’s largest mental health hospital was embroiled in a media firestorm and under attack from Ontario’s Premier for the hospital’s handling of unauthorized leaves of absence for this misunderstood patient population.

Paris Semansky, Director of Communications and Public Affairs from CAMH and one of the leaders of the response to this issue, will use this example to illustrate the ongoing impactof mental health stigma and will provide practical solutions to communicators about how we, together, can address mental health stigma in our work.

By the end of this session, you will be able to:

  • Build robust awareness campaigns alerting the public about risks and services
  • Develop a better understanding of mental health stigma
  • Understand the importance of addressing stigma for all mental illnesses, including complex mental illness
  • Understand tools to help combat mental health stigma in your communications

Paris Semansky
Director of Communications and Public Affairs

01:50 PM

Session 5B

Case Study: CIHI – Communicating Effectively With Health Care Stakeholders During COVID-19

How do you communicate to stakeholders like hospitals, health ministries, media and Canadians who are in crisis-mode during a pandemic? This session will explore how the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) effectively segmented its stakeholders and used various approaches to communicate with audiences across the country who were all facing different COVID-19-related challenges and looking for a trusted source of health data.

Session learning objectives include:

  • Learning strategies to cut through the noise and effectively reach stakeholders, while also acknowledging their unique pandemic challenges
  • Tailoring messages appropriately to various and diverse audiences
  • How to assess whether to contribute to the conversation or to take a step back as a communicator in the health field during a pandemic

Julie Bortolotti
Communications Specialist
Canadian Institute for Health Information

Ramon Syyap
Digital Content Specialist
Canadian Institute for Health Information

02:30 PM

Networking Break

02:40 PM

Closing Keynote

Case Study: Ornge #opremoteimmunity Communications Lessons Learned From A Large-Scaled Multi-Agency Coordinated Operation

With extensive expertise in Northern Ontario, and the ability to fly into 31 remote communities, Ornge was tasked with delivering and administering the vaccination programfor Ontario’s northern and remote communities, not to mention building trust throughstrong communication.

To accomplish this, Ornge needed to coordinate between multiple organizations, healthcare providers, government agencies, the communities themselves, as well as internal teams. It was a monumental task that required careful planning and execution.

Key Session Takeaways Include:

  • Lessons learned from communicating with multiple partners over a vast area
  • Creative solutions to reaching out to community members to establish and execute agame plan
  • Best practices in helping communities build vaccine confidence
  • Prepare for success by incorporating storytelling and incorporating the youth into your plans
  • Keeping the lines of communication open, transparent, and informative

James MacDonald
Director, Communications and Public Affairs

Ongoing Call for

This is your opportunity to share your knowledge and experience with other health care professionals.

Please email us at info@sparkconferences.com to receive more information.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

Secure Your Spot Today

Save 10-15% per person on registration when Early Bird rates are available. Space is limited on certain sessions or activities and participation is available on first-come-first-served basis.