Helena currently serves as the Minister of Community and Social Services. She has previously served as the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment and to the Minister of Health Promotion.
Helena has served as Caucus Chair and was a sitting member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Standing Committee on Social Policy. She has also served on several other Standing Committees including Government Agencies, Finance and Economic affairs, Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on General Government.
To date, Helena is most proud of her work as a member of the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions, a non-partisan committee. This special Committee appointed by the then Premier of Ontario, Hon. Dalton McGuinty, held public hearings around the province and visited mental health and addictions facilities and several First Nations communities to better understand the Mental Health and Addictions program challenges facing Ontario. Their work and recommendations were presented in the report Navigating the Journey to Wellness and can be found online at http://www.ontla.on.ca.
At age 12,Helena came to Canada from England and later went on to receive her medical degree and Master of Health Sciences from the University of Toronto. She holds certification from the Canadian College of Family Physicians and Canadian College of Health Service Executives. Helena also has a Master of Business administration from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
After many years in general practice on staff at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, Helena became the Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Health Services for The Regional Municipality of York. During her 18 years in this position, she had responsibility for public health, land ambulance and long-term care in a Region of over 1 million people.
Helena has been actively involved with numerous community organizations including the Ontario Great Lakes Renewal Foundation, the York Centre for Children, Youth and Families, the York Region District Health Council, Giant Steps Toronto and the Newmarket Stingrays Swim Club. She has volunteered with the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council and mentored foreign-trained professionals.
For her community service, Helena has been awarded the “Outstanding Alumni Mentor Award” from the University of Toronto’s Public Health Sciences Alumni association; the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Local Public Health Agencies; the “In Celebration of Women” award for her Medical Leadership in York Region; the Canadian Institute of Planners Award for Planning Excellence in Environmental Planning.
Helena first moved to York Region in 1980 where she now lives with her partner Hershel. She is the mother of 2 adult children, Natasha and Nicholas.