Kathy has three primary passions:

  • Facilitating restructuring and realignment within the health care sector. Kathy has worked with Ontario health care organizations for almost 20 years to facilitate restructuring and realignment within the health care sector, including implementing amalgamations, mergers, management services arrangements, alliances, and networks. She has helped establish several shared services organizations in Ontario, as well as alliances that provide information technology services, electronic health record systems, PACS services, and diagnostic imaging repositories on a regional basis. These arrangements pay significant dividends (efficiencies, saved resources) to participants.
  • Governance. Kathy speaks regularly to boards of not-for-profit and charitable corporations to advise them of their governance and charitable law responsibilities, including providing advice on hospital, foundation, non-profit and association by-laws. She works with charities and parallel foundations to establish appropriate governance structures and policies to facilitate and maintain healthy, cooperative relationships.
  • Outsourcing & procurement. Her recent commercial experience has focused on providing advice on procurement and outsourcing arrangements, with a focus on best procurement practices for public sector organizations. She is passionate about de-mystifying the procurement process requirements and structuring procurement processes to achieve a successful outcome and avoid unnecessary pitfalls

Prior to joining DDO Health Law, Kathy was a partner and Co-Chair of the National Health Law Group at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP. She has worked in private practice since 1994, focusing specifically on the health sector since 1999. Kathy worked in-house at Bell Canada for 18 months prior to 1999, with a significant focus on IT procurement.

Kathy graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law summa cum laude and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1994. She was an editor of the OBA’s Health Matters newsletter 2001 to 2010.

Additional Testimonials

Kathy O’Brien has been so much more than just a lawyer for us. Her command of the law in the FHO/FHT environment is impressive. In addition she brings her experience, perspective and common sense to bear, functioning as a counsellor, confidant, and sounding board on some tricky issues. She has provided clear guidance on fiduciary responsibilities for our physician directors and has been instrumental in helping us implement best governance practices. She is an absolute pleasure to deal with: accessible, responsive and engaging. She is as competent and professional as one could hope to find.

Barbara Moysey
Former Chair, North York Family Health Team

Recent Media

Charities grapple with data breach reporting rules, best practices

New mandatory data breach disclosure rules are causing apprehension for charities and other not-for-profit organizations struggling to determine how they fit into… Read more

Boards should brainstorm, consult when faced with reduced funding 

When it’s time for health boards to make tough financial decisions, it’s crucial to consult boradly and be as creative as possible, Toronto health lawyer… Read more

Set policies to avoid public spats and keep donations flowing

Hospitals and foundations should set out clear policies and expectations early on to avoid potentially devastating public disagreements over donor funds, says Toronto health… Read more

Risk-management policies a must for hospital foundations, charities:

Hospital foundations and charitable boards should develop risk-management policies that prepare them for unseen crises both internally and outside their organizations, Toronto… Read more

New rules for directors good for charities: O’Brien
Changes to the law around charities will mean that the organizations will have more freedom to access the resources of their directors, Toronto health lawyer Kathy O’Brien… Read more

Access, quality of information key for non-profit boards
Boards of non-profit and charitable organizations would best be served if they established online portals for members to access key information when needed… Read more

The importance of training for health boards
Training helps health boards avoid common misconceptions around dispute resolution and how to deal with conflicts of interest, says Toronto health lawyer… Read more

Hospitals and their foundations: the importance of communication

The importance of regular communication between hospitals and their foundations cannot be overstated to avoid disputes about how best to use money raised in the community… Read more

Bill 154 proposes long-awaited changes for not-for-profits

Ontario’s introduction of Bill 154, the Cutting Unnecessary Red Tape Act will, if passed, allow the province’s not-for-profit sector to begin to modernize in the way… Read more

Proposed amendments to Ontario’s charity laws welcome: O’Brien

Proposed changes to Ontario’s charity laws offer needed clarity when it comes to paying directors for any goods or services they provide, says Toronto health and… Read more

Avoiding the pitfalls of a problematic AGM

With health-care organizations holding their annual general meetings (AGM) typically between May and July, it’s important they consider how to present it… Read more

Will hospital-naming directive cause donation chilling effect?

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s proposed hospital-naming directive may have a chilling effect on large donations to these facilities in Ontario, says… Read more

A prescription for successful health sector integration

As an increasing number of heath-care boards across Ontario consider integration as a way to use taxpayer dollars most efficiently, Toronto health lawyer Kathy O’Brien… Read more

Health sector waiting to see how LHINs use broad new powers

Ontario’s Patients First Act (Bill 41) proposes to expand the mandate of Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), giving them considerable new powers over the expanded… Read more

Ontario health boards moving toward collaborative governance

Health boards across Ontario are looking for ways to collaborate with other service providers in the health-care sector as a way to use taxpayer dollars more efficiently while… Read more

Appointment of hospital supervisor brings major local impact: O’Brien

To Ontario communities – Brockville and Chatham – have temporarily lost local control of the operation of their hospitals after the province stepped in to… Read more

Kathy O’Brien: a passionate advocate for health-sector clients

Toronto health lawyer Kathy O’Brien is passionate about governance, as well as facilitating restructuring and integration within the health-care… Read more


Kathy O’Brien has been recognized by Best Lawyers® Canada 2008-2020 in the field of Health Care Law.