About Us
Who We Are

Heart Valve Voice Canada is a non-profit patient advocacy organization that works to improve the health and quality of life of people living with heart valve disease. We advocate for increased and early diagnosis, timely access to appropriate treatment, removal of barriers to receiving that diagnosis and treatment, and ensuring meaningful support systems for those affected by heart valve disease. Our advocacy network includes patients and their support systems, a multi-disciplinary group of health care professionals, and other cardiac and patient advocacy and service organizations.

Aims & Objectives

Heart Valve Voice Canada aims to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and management of heart valve disease by raising awareness of its severity and the need for early detection to ensure all patients receive the right treatment at the right time.

Our core objectives are:

1. Raising awareness of the symptoms and severity of heart valve disease in Canada in order to save lives and improve
quality of life.

2. Improving the recognition and diagnosis of heart valve disease by educating all those involved with heart valve disease patients on the symptoms and severity of heart valve disease.

3. Working to ensure there is a clear and effective treatment pathway between primary care and specialists to ensure optimal treatment of the disease.

4. Effectively campaigning for the early detection and optimal treatment of heart valve disease across Canada.

5. Providing credible, independent, and practical advice to patients, health care professionals, and policy-makers about heart valve disease.

6. Representing Canada’s heart valve disease patients to ensure they receive the right treatment at the right time, improving the quality of life and overall outcomes for each individual.

Board of Directors

Our Steering Committee is comprised of patients and health care professionals who are committed to guiding Heart Valve Voice Canada, including:

Jacqueline Little, RN, BScN

Jacqueline Little has been a registered nurse for 18 years and has been employed at St. Michael’s hospital since 2005. Jacqueline has worked in the coronary intensive care unit for 9 years and has also been an active member of the critical care response team. Currently Jacqueline is the structural heart nurse coordinator for the transcatheter heart valve program at St. Michaels Hospital. Since taking on this role in 2014 Jacqueline has created and implemented patient education materials to help improve on patient’s journey and outcomes. Jacqueline is also a student at Athabasca University enrolled in the masters of nursing and nurse practitioner program.

Dr. Richard Whitlock

Dr. Whitlock is a cardiac surgeon and intensive care physician at Hamilton Health Sciences, where his clinical focus is on aortic valve intervention and aortic surgery. Dr. Whitlock was medically qualified at the University of Toronto and received his specialist training in cardiac surgery and critical care medicine at McMaster University. In 2012, he received his PhD in Clinical Epidemiology and is now an Associate Professor within the Department of Surgery at McMaster University. He is also a Principal Investigator for the Perioperative & Surgery Program at the Population Health Research Institute.

Dr. Charles Peniston

Dr. Peniston is an established cardiovascular surgeon, with a private practice in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Peniston works primarily with adults in need of heart surgery, or with problems affecting the vascular system. He also conducts cardiothoracic surgery, which is surgery that takes into account the chest cavity as well as the heart. Dr. Peniston is also an attending physician, Chief and Medical Director of the transcatheter aortic valve implantation program at nearby Southlake Regional Health Centre; and frequently participates in teaching for continued medical education purposes. Dr. Peniston also conducts research in coronary bypass surgery, and has been published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery on this topic and others. A Fellow of the American College of Surgeons as well as the Royal College of Surgeons of Canada, Dr. Peniston is an active member of the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, the Section Head of Cardiac Surgery for the Ontario Medical Association, and the Canadian Medical Association.

John Stott, Heart Valve Recipient and HR Leader

John Stott is a surgical recipient of an artificial aortic valve who is currently living a full and energetic life. Born with a bicuspid aortic valve, John knew the odds were that he would have to address the issue of heart surgery at some point in his life and that point arrived in Fall 2013 when John was just 54. John was an active participant in his entire heart surgery experience and he is an strong advocate for others facing similar, life-impacting cardiac journeys. John’s professional career includes 20 years of human resource leadership roles within retail, manufacturing, and media. Now semi-retired, John provides workplace consulting and mentoring through his company stottHR. John sits on several boards and is a graduate of Douglas College, the University of Winnipeg, and Ivey Business School. John also holds his Chartered Professional in Human Resource (CPHR) designation and International Certified Mentorship Practitioner (ICMP) certification.

Rima Styra, MD, MEd, FRCPC

Dr. Rima Styra is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto and works in the Medical Psychiatry Program at the University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital.  She is a graduate of the University of Toronto Medical School, and has a Masters of Education degree from OISE.  She has a staff appointment in the Psychiatry, Health and Disease Program, and a secondary cross appointment in the UHN Cardiac Surgery Department, as well as member of the Toronto General Research Institute.  Her research is focused on the interface between mental health issues and cardiac disease and in quality of life in minimally invasive cardiac procedures. Dr. Styra is presently involved both in the clinical care of cardiac patients as well as research in the area of quality of life.

Dr. Jessica Forcillo

Dr. Forcillo is a cardiac surgeon who works at the University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CHUM), focusing on valvular heart surgery and aortic surgery. She is the first formerly-trained cardiac surgeon in Canada in surgery and percutaneous valve procedures having completed a two-year fellowship with Emory University Hospitals in the US, which is one of the highest volume centres in transcatheter valve therapies. She has performed transcatheter procedures at CHUM, as well as at the Montreal Heart Institute and at Sacré-Coeur Hospital. Research is also a big part of Dr Forcillo's career. She holds her master’s in biomedical sciences and master’s in public health. She is part of a research team at Cape Town (South Africa) that works with the African Union to increase cardiac surgery programs, and access to heart valve therapies, in Africa. Dr. Forcillo is eager to participate in the development of new technologies, especially heart valve therapies, in order to offer what is best for her patients.

Dr. Benoit Daneault

Dr. Daneault is an Interventional Cardiologist, Co-director of the TAVI Program, and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Universite de Sherbrooke (CHUS) in Quebec. He is a graduate of the University of Sherbrooke medical school, where he also received his postdoctoral medical education and cardiology specialist certificate. Dr. Daneault also completed Interventional Cardiology Fellowship programs with both the University of Sherbrooke in 2010 and the NYPH/Columbia University Medical Center in New York in 2012. Dr. Daneault has been published extensively, nationally and internationally, for his work and research on heart valve disease, diagnosis, and treatments and is actively involved in ongoing cardiology research initiatives.

Dr. Olga Toleva

Dr. Toleva is an Interventional Cardiologist at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Toleva was clinically trained in Sofia, Bulgaria and has completed extensive education, training, and certification in Canada, including the Interventional Cardiology Fellowship Program and the Adult Cardiology Residency Program at the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, and the Internal Medicine Residency Program at Vancouver General Hospital. In 2015, she received her Master’s of Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Toleva has received numerous awards, recognition, and research grants for her work in cardiology and is currently the Principal Investigator for Randomized Controlled Trials at the Interventional Cardiology Research Institute.

Lorraine Montoya

Lorraine Montoya served as Program Coordinator and Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) for the Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implant (TAVI) Program at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. During her tenure in this role, Lorraine worked with multiple stakeholders to ensure TAVI patients and their family members were supported and engaged through each stage of their care trajectory. In the past, Lorraine worked as a Senior Nursing Tutor at the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Health where she was part of a World Health Organization (WHO) Project to develop and implement an International Nursing Curriculum for the UAE Schools of Nursing. Lorraine holds a B.Sc. in Nursing from the University of Victoria and a Master of Adult Education from St. Francis Xavier University.

Dr. Philippe Pibarot

Dr Philippe Pibarot was born in Toulon, France in 1964. Dr Pibarot is full professor at the Department of Medicine of Laval University and he holds the Canada Research Chair (Level I) in Valvular Heart Disease (VHD) at the Québec Heart & Lung Institute. The objective of his research program is to develop and validate novel approaches to improve the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of VHD. He is currently the principal investigator of several multicenter studies and trials funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research through a 7-year Foundation grant. He is director of the Echocardiography Core Laboratory at the Québec Heart & Lung Institute, which performs the central analyzed analyses for several major trials in transcatheter valve therapy. Dr Pibarot has published more than 450 articles in the course of his career. He received the Annual Achievement Award of the Canadian Society of Echocardiography (2010), the Research Achievement Award, Canadian Cardiovascular Society (2010), the Feigenbaum Lecture Award, American Society of Echocardiography (2012) and a doctorate “honoris causa” from University of Liège in Belgium (2017). Dr Pibarot was the chair of the Scientific Program Committee of the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress (2010-2011) and is an ex-officio member of the nucleus of the Working Group in Valvular heart Diseases of the European Society of Cardiology. He is a member of the Valve Academic Research Consortium 3, Paravalvular Leak Academic Research Consortium, and American Society of Echocardiography / European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging guidelines committees for stress echocardiography in non-ischemic heart disease and multi-modality imaging of prosthetic heart valves.

Get Involved

Heart Valve Voice Canada could use your support in a variety of ways. First, you can support our advocacy efforts and awareness campaigns such as our current TAVI Campaign. If you are a heart valve disease patient or caregiver, a health care professional or interested in volunteering your time as part of our Board of Directors or as a Heart Valve Voice ambassador in your area, please contact us by email and we will be in touch.