Graphic displaying photos of the invited speakers and details about the event

Strengthening health system resilience: What can Canada and Israel learn from each other?

Event Summary

The Institute for Pandemics and the North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies held a workshop titled "Strengthening health system resilience:  What can Canada and Israel learn from each other?". The workshop, which took place at Hart House on the University of Toronto campus on September 8th, 2023, provided an opportunity for health system and policy scholars, health professionals, and students to engage in discussion and debate about strategies, policies, and reforms to health systems to build resilience. 

Invited guest speakers, Professor Nadav Davidovitch, Director of the School of Public Health, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, and Dr. Karima Velji, Chief of Nursing and Professional Practice, Province of Ontario, addressed several health policy issues shared by the Canadian and Israeli health systems with a focus on health and healthcare disparities, shortages and gaps in health human resources, and lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic responses in the two countries. Discussion panelists pointed out similarities and differences related to the structure and mode of operation of Canadian and Israeli health systems, such as the public-private mix, evolution of innovative roles such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, and the use of financial incentives to attract health professionals to remote and rural areas.

Attendees learned about the ambitious 6-point plan in Israel to address inequalities in health – something that could also be introduced in Canada given the shared challenges we face, yet have not seen such a plan due to the persistent lack of both political will and supporting data and evidence to inform these actions. In addition, the growth of the new role of health professionals in Israel, the Physician Assistant, which to date has been exclusive to urgent care/emergency departments, raised questions about how best to diversify the workforce in Canada to face the persistent shortages faced in particular in rural and remote areas.

The workshop was open to the general public. Attendees from within and outside the university participated in the discussion and in health policy learning through a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. 

About the invited guest speakers

Nadav Davidovitch, MD, MPH, PhD, is an epidemiologist and public health physician. He is a Full Professor and Director, School of Public Health at the Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Chair, Health Policy Program, Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel. Among his research interests: health policy, public health, one health/ecohealth, comparative healthcare systems, health inequities and global health.

Prof. Davidovitch serves on several international and national committees, among them: Governing Board, European Public Health Association; Executive Board, Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) and Chair of its Public Health Emergencies Task Force. He authored or co-authored over 180 papers and book chapters, coedited six volumes and books and published his work in leading medical and health policy journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vaccine, Social Science and Medicine, and Law & Contemporary Problems.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Israel, he has been involved in research and the formulation of health policy and has advised various agencies in Israel and abroad on the need to make structural changes in the health system, with an emphasis on social issues and addressing health gaps.

Karima Velji, RN, PhD, CHE, FCAN is a health-care leader with a proven track record in fostering the engagement of the patient (service user) and system partners to drive innovative models of care, integrating research and care to drive next practice, and creating cultures to unleash the potential of high performing teams to achieve stellar results. She has implemented innovative health human resource solutions within these models of care to ensure optimal scope of practice of all clinicians.

Dr. Velji is Ontario’s first Chief of Nursing and Professional Practice. She has held senior leadership positions in several Academic Health Science Centres and has operated a successful consulting company. Dr. Velji is a sought-after consultant for system level projects and has led external reviews of several organizations. She is a surveyor with Health Standards Organization/Accreditation Canada.


Jennifer Lake, Assistant Professor, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy

David Fisman, Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Barry Pakes, Associate Professor, Department of Family & Community Medicine

Sara Allin, Associate Professor, Institute for Health Policy Management & Evaluation, The North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies

Isser Dubinksy, Senior Fellow, Institute for Health Policy Management & Evaluation

Baruch Levi, Research Associate, The North American Observatory on Health Systems and Policies

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