Trailblazing Winnipeg surgeon appointed to Senate

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A Winnipeg surgeon, professor and advocate for diversity and inclusion has been appointed to the Senate.

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A Winnipeg surgeon, professor and advocate for diversity and inclusion has been appointed to the Senate.

Dr. Flordeliz (Gigi) Osler fills a Manitoba seat in the Senate that sat vacant since Jan. 31, 2021 when former Justice Murray Sinclair retired.

Her appointment was announced Monday in a press release issued by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.

Dr. Flordeliz (Gigi) Osler is Manitoba's newest Senator.

All six of Manitoba’s seats in the Senate — that was created to counterbalance representation by population in the House of Commons — have now been filled. The Senate not only defends regional interests, it also “creates space for the voices of historically underrepresented groups like Indigenous Peoples, racialized communities, and women,” the release said.

Osler was the first female surgeon and the first racialized woman elected president of the Canadian Medical Association, where she led the development of the CMA’s first-ever policy on equity and diversity, the release noted.

She was born in Winnipeg to immigrant parents from the Philippines and India and serves as a role model, research supervisor and mentor for Filipino and other racialized medical students in Manitoba and across Canada.

Osler is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba, where she earned her medical degree and completed her residency training.

She volunteers annually to train other surgeons in Africa and has been a key voice in raising awareness of the health impacts of climate change in Canada, the release said.

Osler has served as president of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada since 2021, the chair of the Canadian Medical Forum since 2020 and co-chair of the Virtual Care Task Force since 2019.

She currently operates out of two clinics, including one in the otolaryngology-head and neck section of the St. Boniface Hospital. It was not clear in Monday’s press release if she’ll continue in her clinical practice, teaching or other professional roles. She could not be reached for comment. In a prepared statement, Osler said she was “honoured and humbled” to be selected for the Senate.

As a senator, her role will be to examine and revise legislation, investigate national issues and represent regional, provincial and minority interests, the press release said. Working in health policy in recent years has given Osler a look at how to effect change “at a time when we must all roll up our sleeves.”

She was recommended for the Senate by an independent advisory board for senate appointments, and chosen using a merit-based process open to all Canadians.

“This process ensures senators are independent, reflect Canada’s diversity, and are able to tackle the broad range of challenges and opportunities facing the country,” the release noted.

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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