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Dr. Alika Lafontaine

Indigenous Physician | Healthcare Leader and Changemaker

Alika Lafontaine Headshot
Public Policy Forum Award Speech
Alika Lafontaine Headshot
Public Policy Forum Award Speech

Named Maclean’s top Health Care Innovator of 2023, Dr. Alika Lafontaine has been at the epicentre of healthcare system change for almost two decades. He is the first Indigenous physician and the youngest doctor to lead the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) in its 156-year history, and the first Indigenous physician to be listed on The Medical Post’s 50 Most Powerful Doctors. As an experienced health leader, Lafontaine speaks eloquently and passionately on the politics of healthcare, implementing and scaling equity, effective advocacy, and redesigning health systems.

Working at the intersection of advocacy and implementation, Lafontaine has held both provincial and national medical leadership positions. From 2013-2017, he co-led the Indigenous Health Alliance, growing it into one of the most ambitious Indigenous health transformation projects in Canadian history. At its peak, the Alliance represented more than 150 First Nations and successfully advocated for $68 million in funding. In 2017, the Alliance was recognized by the Public Policy Forum, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presenting Lafontaine with the inaugural Emerging Indigenous Leader award.

Drawing on the work of the Alliance and his own personal experiences, Lafontaine went on to found Safespace Networks, an anonymous learning platform for reporting racism and healthcare harm. It’s grown to include reporting networks in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, providing protection for patients and families and assisting them with navigating fragmented and confusing health reporting processes.

During his presidency year at the CMA, Lafontaine was the driving force behind securing the largest nominal Federal investment in healthcare since 2004, breakthrough changes in physician credential recognition in several provinces (including a first-of-its-kind Atlantic physician registry), and strong commitments to national collaboration in managing health data and health human resources between provincial, territorial, and national governments. The CMA also adopted a long-term Indigenous health goal and began an apology process related to Indigenous patient maltreatment in Canada’s healthcare systems, which Lafontaine continues to lead today.

Grounded in a mixed Indigenous ancestry of Metis, Oji-Cree and Pacific Islander, Lafontaine completed his medical degree and anesthesia fellowship training at the University of Saskatchewan before moving to northern Alberta where he has spent most of his clinical career. He was named one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” and is the youngest recipient of an Indpsire Award.

Speaking topics

Presentations listed below include in-person and virtual keynotes, as well as workshops, fireside chats, and other presentation formats.

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