Kathleen Finlay

Whether in the public arena, on op-ed pages or in the private councils of power, Kathleen has been an unwavering voice for the right of women to be free from sexual violence, harassment and discrimination wherever they work, live or learn. It is a mission that has been forged out of a life-altering experience with sexual violence and institutional betrayal.

As the Ontario Legislature was told, standing up and speaking out after being sexually assaulted and sexually harassed during her employment with one of North America’s leading securities regulators created such a toxic work environment that she was forced to leave her job. The retaliation and blacklisting that followed, directed by the highest levels of the organization, led to the complete obliteration of her more than 20-year career in public service and capital markets regulation. The life-altering harm and medical costs of this encounter last to this day. It is a largely untold story of abuse and complicity that even today reaches up to one of Canada’s most powerful political figures.  

Kathleen’s experience led to her founding an advocacy to combat gender-based violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, in the community and on the campus. The Zer0Now Campaign™ is the only organization of its kind to champion changes in law and corporate practices, provide one-to-one outreach counseling to victims in Canada, the United States and abroad, and support survivors on their healing path to recovery.    

Kathleen has been called on by prominent public policy leaders and lawmakers to advise on legislation and other initiatives to advance equality and protection in the workplace, on the campuses and in the community. Her work has been cited in debates in the House of Commons and on the floor of the Ontario Legislative Assembly. She is a vigorous voice for advancing trauma-informed practices as a required protocol for responding to victims of sexual violence and harassment, and for raising awareness, including in the healthcare sector and in the media, of the serious, often untreated and potentially life-threatening health conditions that victims face. 

Her ground-breaking recommendation calling for a Sunshine law for disclosure by governments of sexual misconduct statistics, first raised in her HuffPost columns and in The Zer0Now Campaign’s™ Call for Action, was adopted in an amendment to the federal government’s proposed anti-harassment legislation (Bill C-65) in 2018. The government of Manitoba also adopted the proposal. 

In 2019, the federal government responded to her call to create a national action plan to combat gender-based violence.  It also adopted her frequently voiced recommendations that it address gender-based gaps in access to healthcare and treatment. 

Known for her signature skills in strategic communication and policy innovation, Kathleen held senior positions in intergovernmental affairs, finance and the regulation of Canada’s capital markets. She advised cabinet ministers and top government officials on the review and development of major policy initiatives and legislation, including creation of legislation that saw the Ontario Securities Commission transitioned to a self-funding body. She subsequently joined the OSC’s executive management team, where she also held responsibility for the coordination of national securities regulation.  

A much-quoted expert in patient safety from the patient and family perspective, Kathleen is CEO of The Center for Patient Protection, an internationally recognized healthcare advocacy empowering patients and families to achieve safer care in the hospital setting and providing support for those suffering from the emotional harm of medical errors.  

Kathleen’s authentic and passionate voice confronting the abusive actions of powerful bad actors and enabling institutions, and comforting their most vulnerable victims, have made her a sought‐after commentator in the public arena. Kathleen regularly appears in the media, including The Toronto Star and The Times Colonist and flagship news programs like CTV National News, CBC’s The National and Go Public and news-talk broadcasts, like Charles Adler Tonight.  She is a frequent contributor to The Hill TimesNow Magazine and for six years was a regular commentator on medical issues in The Huffington Post.

 

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