She speaks the universal language of compassion for those struggling to heal from life’s challenging obstacles, and especially for the most vulnerable. Whether advocating to combat gender violence and sexual harassment before committees of parliament, working with patients, families and providers to improve health care outcomes or championing innovations in mental health delivery and suicide prevention in op-eds and media interviews, Kathleen Finlay is an unwavering voice for making compassion the new normal.
She is founder of The Center for Patient Protection, CEO of Patient Protection.Healthcare and founder of the ZerONow Campaign to combat gender violence and sexual harassment. Visited every day by top professionals, scholars and individuals from around the world, these neoteric advocacy clinics provide trauma-informed, leading edge compassion-based support to those experiencing challenges in the health care system and mental health and for victims of sexual violence and workplace harassment. They form the foundation of a unique knowledge base of lived experiences built through thousands of individual interactions.
Her work has produced a number of policy and legislative firsts in mental health support, in creating safer health care and in combating gender violence and sexual harassment. The common thread in her advocacy, research and writing has been the prevention of trauma and its avoidable sequelae of outcomes that too often alter lives in tragic ways.
A tireless advocate for improved delivery of mental health crisis and suicide prevention services, in 2019 Kathleen launched #Bring988toCanada, the campaign to introduce innovative life-saving technology to Canada. The new national 988 lifeline is now operational across Canada. Her work inspired CTV Chief Anchor Lisa LaFlamme to describe Kathleen as “another modern thinker who can save lives.”
Prompted by the life-altering hospital ordeal of her late mother — made all the worse by painful and repeated medical errors — Kathleen’s seminal articles, media interviews and op-ed contributions about patient safety raised awareness about the trauma of hospital harm like no one had done before in Canada. She was the first to identify medical errors in Canadian hospitals as the third leading cause of death. Kathleen created the first online advocacy clinic to assist vulnerable populations around the world in dealing with the trauma of medical errors and helped thousands find a path for healing and safer care. She offered her advocacy services to individuals free of charge.
A number of health care providers have implemented her recommendations on patient and family engagement practices, on eliminating deny and defend litigation cultures, in adopting trauma-informed protocols dealing with patient complaints and on improving communications and sensitivity practices involving DNRs. Her lived experience on that subject was chronicled in the health care journal Medscape and has influenced countless providers and professionals around the world. In 2023, the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) sought Kathleen out and asked her to be part of their review of patient safety performance during the pandemic.
Her compassionate perspective, innovative mindset and exceptional craft in using the written word to animate healing change have led health care bodies and top medical players to seek her advice and retain her professional services. Words matter when organizations are looking to persuade policy decision makers to side with a particular vision for the future. Some of her recent work can be seen here.
Kathleen’s research and ideas for combating sexual misconduct have been published around the world. Her online clinic has helped victims in dozens of countries find a healing path for their trauma while advocating game-changing reforms in legislation and in workplace practices. The federal government’s anti-harassment legislation (Bill C-65) was amended to incorporate her recommendations for greater transparency about incidents of sexual misconduct. Kathleen has worked directly with and advised legislators on reducing risk to women where they live, work and learn and is one of Canada’s most recognized voices for ending non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). She was asked to advise on a bill to curb the harm of NDAs that is currently before the Senate of Canada and she has made frequent submissions to committees of the House of Commons and the Senate.
Kathleen makes this real world experience and innovate thinking available today to universities, health care providers and leading institutions through Compassion Innovation, a professional advisory, strategic problem-solving and crisis management firm she founded in 2021. Her work builds on her previous career, which involved senior positions in financial services policy and the regulation of Canada’s capital markets.
She is regularly interviewed on national news platforms, including the CBC and CTV. Her prominently featured columns in Ottawa’s Hill Times and the Ottawa Citizen are must reading for MPs, senators and power brokers and have influenced the passage of groundbreaking legislation. In the fall of 2023, Kathleen was invited to address the St. James Literary Society. Formed in 1898, it is the oldest of its kind in North America. Previous speakers have included prime ministers, governors-general and acclaimed authors.