Hedy Fry (Date of Birth: 6th Aug 1941)
Trinidad and Tobago Icons Vol 2
Dr Hedy Fry is celebrated in Canada for promoting medicine and popularising health issues through politics and the mass media. Most Canadians today know her as a politician, but she dedicated many years practising as a family doctor and improving conditions for medical professionals and patients. In her practice as a family doctor, she delivered over 800 babies.
Hedy Fry was born on 6th August, 1941 in San Fernando, Trinidad. She attended San Fernando Government School and St. Joseph’s Convent. She won an Island Scholarship in English Literature to Oxford University but became interested in medicine while reading a reference book that described many of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes as having psychiatric problems.
Her parents sacrificed financially to send her to the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland. She earned the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in science in one year and completed her medical studies with honours, winning a silver medal in applied physiology.
In 1970, Dr Fry immigrated to Canada where she practised family medicine at St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver for 23 years and held positions in various medical bodies. As President of the Vancouver Medical Association and the British Columbia Medical Association, she initiated Canada’s first retirement plan for doctors. She lobbied with the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) for paid pregnancy leave for female doctors. As a result of her activism, the Federation also introduced flexible times and shared residency for demanding practices such as surgery, to allow female doctors more family time.
As a leader in the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), Dr Fry spearheaded the recommendation for self-determination and self-government for aboriginal peoples in order to improve their health status. She represented the Association in the United States and dealt with issues of healthcare financing and delivery. Dr Fry also lobbied to have the government pay more attention to the impact of global warming, environmental issues, mandatory seatbelt and helmet laws, and mandatory physical education in schools.
Dr Fry participated in the CBC “Doctor Doctor” television series from 1985 to 1988. The series educated viewers about general health, common diseases, and health issues such as child obesity, nutrition, pregnancy and the effects of alcohol, and maternal care. The series was so successful that it was rerun for three years.
Dr Fry was editor of the FMWC newsletter and a member of the Medical Post editorial board. She served as Chair of the Obstetrics Committee of the CMA. She was recognised as a Dr Hirsh Rosenfield Distinguished Lecturer in Family Medicine at McGill University in 1994, and was named the Primus Inter Pares1 by the Vancouver Medical Association in 1995.
She served in the Federal Government’s Cabinet as Minister of State for Multiculturalism & Status of Women for six years, as a Member of the Standing Committee on Health in 1994 and 2002, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health between 1993 and 1996, and as Parliamentary Secretary for Human Resource Development & Immigration for 2004-2005. Hedy Fry is currently in her sixth term as a Member of Parilament and as been the Opposition Critic for Sport and the 2010 Games, Opposition Critic for Heritage and is currently the Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on the Status of Women.
Hedy Fry’s aspiration is to continue influencing the Government of Canada to improve the lives of all Canadians. Her advice to young students is that “life should be about finding your talent and pursuing it; you must leave the world knowing you made it a better place.”