The new surgeon general of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), BGen. Andrew Downes, assumed command today during a ceremony at le Régiment de Hull in Gatineau.
“I am honoured to take over as Commander of Canadian Forces Health Services and to continue to work with our dedicated team. People are our greatest resource and I will continue putting all our effort toward ensuring that we are an organization that focuses on the health and well-being of our members,” said Downes.
Downes will be replacing BGen. Colin MacKay. After 34 years of serving the CAF, MacKay is set to retire on July 17.
MacKay has been serving as the Surgeon General since June 10, 2015.
“It has been a great honour and privilege for me to serve with and to lead the Canadian Forces Health Services’ delivery of our high-quality health system, supporting the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces wherever they are called to serve. The compassionate care of our ill and injured has remained a central focus of our mission and motivation for our continual improvement. I will truly miss working with such a dedicated and professional team, but it is with confidence and optimism that I hand over to Brigadier-General Andrew Downes to lead the Canadian Forces Health Services into the future,” said MacKay.
Downes joined the CAF in 1989 as a medical student at the University of Manitoba. During his career, he has served as the CEFCOM / Canada COM / CANOSCOM Surgeon, the RCAF Surgeon and briefly the Director of Force Health Protection. In 2014, he was appointed as Director of Mental Health.
Downes has been deployed on four international operations including OP CAVALIER in Bosnia-Herzegovina; OP MIRADOR, in Italy; OP PALLADIUM, in in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the Task Force Surgeon; and OP ATHENA in Afghanistan as the Task Force Surgeon, Commanding Officer of the Heath Services Unit, and Commander of the NATO Multinational Role 3 Hospital at Kandahar Airfield.
As the new Surgeon General, Downes will be responsible for making policy recommendations on all matters of health relating to CAF members and will report to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). The Surgeon General is appointed by the CDS.
“I want to thank Brigadier-General Colin MacKay for his years of loyal service and professionalism. He and his team have always shown a very strong commitment to the health and well-being of our women and men. Brigadier-General Andrew Downes brings a solid understanding of our health programs and services, especially in the realm of mental health. I am confident his experience will ensure our people continue to receive quality treatment and support so they can achieve high standards of excellence on operations,” said Gen. Jonathan Vance, CDS.
The Canadian Forces Health Services provides health services across Canada and overseas to Canadian soldiers and to any other populations as directed by the Minister of National Defence.