Francis John Blatherwick
Francis John Blatherwick, CM, OBC, CD, FRCP(C) (born September 11, 1944) was one of Canada's trailblazing leaders in public health and was the longest-serving medical health officer in Canada when he retired in 2007.
Entry into public health
Prior to coming to Vancouver, he was the Medical Health Officer in the Simon Fraser Health Unit for nine years. He received his MD from the University of Alberta in 1969. He then started in public health when he left a residency in Internal Medicine at Vancouver General Hospital in 1971 to set up the Pine Street Youth Clinic. He received his Diploma in Public Health at the University of Toronto in 1975 and completed his Fellowship in Public Health at University of British Columbia in 1976.
Public health leadership
Blatherwick served as the Medical Health Officer or Chief Medical Health Officer in Vancouver, British Columbia from 1984 to 2007. As the medical health officer for the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, he has been the moving force behind a number of important programs, especially those involving youth, people with disabilities, people living with AIDS, combating drug addictions, and the move to abolish smoking in the workplace.
Blatherwick became skilled at media relations and was well known for voicing independent, authoritative opinions on controversial health issues. Premier Bill Vander Zalm publicly threatened to fire him – twice – over his advocacy for condoms and sex education in schools. Insite, the first legal supervised safe injection site in North America, opened during his tenure.
He also led Vancouver's public health response to the SARS epidemic.
Blatherwick served in the Canadian Forces reserves for 39 years, retiring in 2000 with the rank of Commander and the position of Senior Naval Reserve Medical Advisor. He served in the Air Force, Army, and the Naval reserves, and was Canada’s representative to the NATO Reserve Medical Officers’ Congress from 1989 to 1995.
He is currently the Honorary Colonel for 12 (Vancouver) Field Ambulance (2006 to 2012).
- Vancouver's Needle Exchange Program, By John Bardsley, John Turvey and John Blatherwick, Canadian Journal of Public Health (1990), Vol. 81, pp. 39–45 ISSN 0008-4263
Blatherwick has written more than 20 books, mostly on medals and flying:
- Royal Canadian Air Force Honours, Decorations, Medals, 1920–1968, By John Blatherwick, 1991, FJB Air Publications.
- A History of Airlines in Canada By Francis John Blatherwick, 1989, Unitrade Press, ISBN 0-919801-66-8
- Canadian Orders, Decorations, and Medals, By Francis John Blatherwick, 1983, Unitrade Press
- 1000 Brave Canadians: The Canadian Gallantry Awards, 1854–1989, By Francis John Blatherwick, 1991, Unitrade Press
- 1979 – Order of St. John of Jerusalem, Officer 1984, Commander 1989
- 1992 – Canada 125 Medal
- 1994 – Order of Canada for his work in public health
- 2002 – Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
- 2002 – named Canadian Health Hero from the Pan American Health Organization
- 2005 – Silver Medal of Service from the British Columbia Medical Association
- 2007 – Order of British Columbia, upon his retirement.
- 2012 – Awarded EIIR Diamond Jubilee Medal
- Trailblazing doctor to retire: Public health took precedence over prudery, politics, business, By Don Harrison, The Province, Published May 29, 2007
- Blatherwick looking to spend time with family, By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun, Published May 29, 2007
- From SARS to salmonella, health officer never backed down, By Mark Hume, The Globe and Mail, Published May 29, 2007
- CANADA’S LONGEST-SERVING MEDICAL HEALTH OFFICER RETIRES, news release, Vancouver Coastal Health, May 28, 2007
- Kent, Heather (April 2002). "Captain Condom captures Vancouver". CMAJ. 166 (9): 1200. PMC .