Frank McGee, Ontario’s controversial AIDS Bureau head, is gone

Published 18, Sep, 2017
Author // Bob Leahy - Publisher

McGee, a formidable voice in Ontario’s HIV community, retires after a long career in public service.

Frank McGee, Ontario’s controversial AIDS Bureau head, is gone

It was announced late last week by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care that after a successful recovery from a lengthy illness, Frank McGee is retiring from the Ontario Public Service. “Frank has been at the forefront of Ontario’s response to HIV” it said. “His contributions have helped Ontario become a leader in HIV/AIDS in Canada.”

His retirement comes at a difficult time; new HIV infections in the province have risen in each of the last three years on record, where other jurisdictions have seen an improving trend.

Mc Gee was well liked by some for his ability to protect AIDS funding in Ontario. He was often engaging and funny. Others felt his sometimes blunt management style and cautious approach to new prevention and testing methodologies, for example, required a more progressive voice to lead the provincial government’s response to HIV, and latterly Hep C.

McGee has been on sick leave for many months. An acting manager, with the assistance of Joanne Lush, Acting Team Lead, AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs has lead the small department within the Ministry since that time.

McGee’s involvement in HIV work goes back many years. Says the official announcement “Frank’s initial HIV-related position in the ministry (1988) was in the Public Health Division. In 1991, he joined the newly formed AIDS Bureau under the direction of Dr. Jay Browne. After Dr. Browne’s retirement in 1998, Frank became the AIDS Coordinator. Approximately ten years later his responsibilities changed to include HCV, and he was given a new title, Manager, AIDS and Hepatitis C Programs.”

The announcement lists these highlights of his long career:

• Frank supported the work of the minister’s Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS, and its development of three provincial HIV/AIDS strategies including the current strategy "Focusing Our Efforts”.

• He developed ground-breaking HIV testing initiatives, including the anonymous HIV testing program, opt-in prenatal HIV testing and the implementation of Canada’s largest HIV point-of-care testing program

• Frank’s vision led to the development of key programs including the Ontario Organization Development Program, the provision of infant formula to new mothers living with HIV and the Provincial Priority Population Networks that support community agencies in their work with populations most at risk of HIV in Ontario.

• He served as the provincial co-chair of the F/P/T Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS for more than 12 years.

PositiveLIte.com wishes Frank well in his retirement years.

About the Author

Bob Leahy - Publisher

Bob Leahy - Publisher

Award-winning blogger Bob Leahy first made his social media mark a decade ago on LiveJournal.com where there are still to this day almost 3,000 entries of his available to be read. He was a featured blogger on Ontario’s HIVStigma.com campaign, along with PositiveLite.com founder Brian Finch. He joined PositiveLite.com at its inception in 2009 and became it's Editor a year later.

Born in the UK, Bob’s background is in corporate banking, which he gladly left in 1994, after being diagnosed with HIV the previous year.  He has chaired the board of PARN (Peterborough AIDS Resource Network) and has been an executive board member of both the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) and the Canadian AIDS Society (CAS).  He was inducted in to the Ontario AIDS Network’s Honour Roll in 2005.  Bob is currently a member of Ontario’s GMSH (Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance). He also writes for TheBody.com.

In 2012, Bob was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal for his work and commitment to HIV/AIDS in Canada.

Bob continues to write for this site while in the Positivelite.Com editor’s seat, with a particular interest  in HIV prevention, theatre and the arts in general. He is accredited media for a number of Toronto theatres. He lives in Warkworth, Ontario with his partner of thirty-two years and three dogs.