CORNWALL, Ontario – Dr. Jean-Robert Bourdeau was the Medical Officer of the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) for nearly 22 years before he retired in 2007. Dr. Bourdeau passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 15.
“Dr. Bourdeau was an innovator who worked tirelessly to improve public health in Eastern Ontario,” said Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, current EOHU Medical Officer, in a press release. “On behalf of all staff and the Board of Health, I wish to extend our sincere condolences to Dr. Bourdeau’s family for their loss.”
The EOHU is honouring the memory of the former employee this week by flying its flag at half mast at the Cornwall office. Throughout his career, Dr. Bourdeau was celebrated for numerous accomplishments.
In 1987, he was the first in the province to change the health unit’s organizational structure to reflect new, mandatory Ministry programs. He also led the EOHU to adopt a ‘multidisciplinary and population-based approach’ to health protection, health promotion and disease and injury prevention. Due to this approach, the EOHU was the first health unit to hire a Health Educator and Health Promoter to the province.
Committed to reducing tobacco use and the impacts of second-hand smoke, Dr. Bourdeau encouraged the City of Cornwall to become the first municipality in the region to pass a bylaw making all public places completely smoke-free in May of 2003. This included workplaces, bars and restaurants. Dr. Bourdeau also commissioned the writing of the book Primarily Prevention – A History of the EOHU 1935-2005. The book highlights the EOHU’s contributions in the region, showcasing the talent and dedication of people who worked in the shadows to advance public health into the spotlight.
Dr. Bourdeau acknowledged the vital role of public health, striving to foster a healthy and safe community; he will be missed and remembered by many. A visitation will be held at Wilson Funeral Home – Boulerice Centre, 218 Montreal Rd. in Cornwall on Saturday, Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.