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Shirlee Sharkey - Saint Elizabeth. Markham, ON, CA

Shirlee Sharkey

CEO | Saint Elizabeth

Markham, ON, CANADA

Health executive and social innovator



Shirlee Sharkey is president and chief executive officer of Saint Elizabeth, a leading national health care organization known for its social innovation, strong financial performance and pioneering practices. As an award-winning and diversified not-for-profit, Saint Elizabeth employs over 8,000 people and has delivered 50 million health care visits in the past decade.

Shirlee’s commitment to community advancement is evident in her leadership and involvement on many boards, ranging from health to education. In January 2014, Shirlee was appointed to chair the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee, a standing committee for Health Quality Ontario. She also serves on the Ontario Health Innovation Council. She is a past chair of George Brown College in Toronto and a former president of the Canadian Home Care Association. In 2007, the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care appointed Shirlee as an expert advisor on staffing and care standards for long-term care homes in the province.

Academically, Shirlee is cross-appointed to the University of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation as an adjunct professor. She has appeared on a number of media panels and is widely published on home and community-based health care, health transformation, social innovation and breakthrough leadership.

Industry Expertise (5)

Corporate Leadership


Health Care - Providers

Health Care - Services

Elder Care

Areas of Expertise (24)

Home Care

Home and Community Care

Home Care Public Policy

Healthcare and Seniors

Healthcare Transformation

Health Innovation

Nursing Leadership

Social Innovation

Social Enterprises

Shared Value

Social Impact



Health Information Technology

Long-Term Care

Long-term Care and Community

Long-Term Care Delivery Best Practices

Community Care


Not-For-Profit Business Transformation

Not For Profit Boards

Mobile Workforce

End of Life Care

Palliative Care

Accomplishments (4)

Canada Order of Excellence - Innovation, Excellence and Wellness (professional)


The Canada Order of Excellence is the highest national quality award of Canada, administered by Excellence Canada, a not-for-profit organization on behalf of the Governor General.

Human Spirit Award (professional)


Recognizes health care providers or teams for acts of caring and compassion that go above and beyond the call of duty, which inspire others and have a profound and lasting impact. (Canadian College of Health Leaders).

Diamond Jubilee Medal of Queen Elizabeth II (personal)


A commemorative medal created in 2012 to recognize significant achievements by Canadians and mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's accession.

Innovation Award for Health Care Leadership (personal)


Recognizes the outstanding capabilities and achievements of a senior executive who has made innovation a focal point of his or her organization’s strategy in order to create high impact results. (Canadian College of Health Leaders).

Education (7)

Harvard Business School: Executive Education, Creating Shared Value: Economic Success and Social Impact 2016

Harvard Business School: Executive Education, Strategy for Health Care Delivery 2009

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto: ICD.D, Directors Education Program, Institute of Corporate Directors 2008

Canadian College of Health Leaders: C.H.E., Certified Health Executive 1994

University of Toronto: M.H.Sc., Health Administration 1992

University of Windsor: B.Sc.N., Nursing 1978

University of Windsor: B.A. 1976

Affiliations (8)

  • Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto - cross appointed to the Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto
  • Chair, Excellence Canada
  • Member, Advisory Board, EXCITE International
  • Member, Health Policy Council, CD Howe Institute
  • Member, Advisory Council, Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation
  • Member, Advisory Board, Rotman School of Management, Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Member, Board of Directors, Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation
  • Champion’s Council, Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (5)

Interview: International Perspectives

Singularity University #xMed  tv


Shirlee Sharkey and Lesley Larsen at #xMed 2015

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Ontario’s piecemeal palliative care gets a road map to recovery

Globe & Mail  online


Every patient nearing end-of-life should have access to quality palliative care in the location of their choice, according to an expert Ontario panel.

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New report highlights need for better end-of-life care

Toronto Star  online


Only 30 per cent of Ontarians with chronic illness receive hospice or palliative care when they die, part of what needs to change as population ages, report says.

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Health Quality Ontario Appoints New Chair to Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee

Health Quality Ontario  online


Dr. Andreas Laupacis, Chair of the Board of Directors of Health Quality Ontario (HQO), today announced the appointment of Shirlee Sharkey as the new Chair of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC).

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No minimum standard for senior care

Toronto Star  


Released yesterday, the report by Ontario health-care expert Shirlee Sharkey recommends guidelines that, in the next four years, could provide the province's 75,000 nursing home residents with up to four hours of care each day, depending on their needs.

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Event Appearances (5)

Home care, long-term care, community care and mental health

Canada 2020: A Health Accord for All Canadians  Ottawa, Canada


Keynote: Spreading hope and happiness

Our Future Health  Nijmegen, The Netherlands (watch:


Closing keynote

Corporate State Canada  Toronto, Canada


Keynote: The one-of-a-kind health care show – starring YOU!

Accreditation Canada  Montreal, Canada


Plenary: That was then; this is now. OMG, here’s tomorrow!

SOCAP14  San Francisco, California


Articles (5)

It’s time to innovate innovation



When everything is innovative, nothing is. Innovation is defined in myriad ways, but it is really a process, a mindset, a framework. It’s looking at your work in an entirely new way that allows new inputs and ideas to flow.

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Community and home care - the digital age



This letter is part of a series of Open Letters from Canadian leaders in health care.

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We must innovate to improve home care

Ottawa Citizen


An op-ed on change and innovation in health care.

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What a weed whacker taught me about being a leader

The Globe and Mail


This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management.

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Three tips to engage your mobile work force

The Globe and Mail


This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management.

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