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About Patient and Family Advisors

Patient and family advisors (PFAs) are people with experience in the Ontario cancer system. As active participants of the cancer system, patients, families and caregivers can provide unique perspectives and valuable feedback on the standard of care they receive. By partnering with staff and contributing their insights, they provide direct input into policies, programs and practices that affect patient care and services.

If you become an advisor, we may ask you to:

  • share your personal cancer care story
  • use your personal experiences to help us understand what the cancer system looks like from a patient’s perspective
  • represent a broad range of patient interests, needs and backgrounds
  • advise on how we can work with patients to design, plan and improve healthcare services
  • review evaluation methods to help define the success of Ontario-wide initiatives
  • listen to others’ opinions, experiences and suggestions
  • help us frame and focus discussion topics and meeting objectives
  • engage in constructive and respectful dialogue

Participation in Committees and Groups

As an advisor, you will be invited to join committees, working groups or focus groups. Some of these are specialized and may require specific skills or requirements.

You may be selected to join a particular committee or group because of interests, skill sets or experiences you previously identified (e.g., experience with screening or treatment for a type of cancer). Selections are rarely made on a first-come-first-served basis. Instead, we select advisors whose backgrounds are a good fit. This makes the experience more valuable for everyone. Advisors may join more than 1 committee or group.


  • Current or previous experience as a patient, or a family member or caregiver of a patient in the Ontario cancer system
  • Confidence communicating in English (verbal and written)
  • Access to internet and email

To reflect the cultural and social diversity of the people who go through the cancer system, we encourage patients and families of all backgrounds and ages to consider becoming a patient and family advisor.


As an advisor, you are responsible for:

  • signing all relevant privacy, consent and non-disclosure documents
  • responding to “Calls for Participation”
  • actively participating in all meetings of the committees or groups you are a part of
  • participating in evaluations of the patient engagement process to help improve the program
  • reviewing documents sent to you electronically in a timely manner 
  • maintaining confidentiality outside committee or group meetings

Time Commitment Guidelines

  • Committees: 1 to 2 year commitment
  • Working Groups: Time-limited commitment
  • Focus Groups: Periodic commitment 

Engagement opportunities typically take place on weekdays between 8 AM and 6 PM.