November 22, 1950

(Winnipeg, Manitoba)


MD, University of Manitoba (1974)

Awards & Honours:

2020: Officer of the Order of Canada

2013: Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences

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Picture of Dr. Philip Berger

A revolutionary health care provider

Portrait of Phil Berger MD

A renowned leader in health promotion, illness prevention and care

Associate Professor, University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine and Chief of Department of Family and Community Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital (1997-2013), Dr. Berger has been at the forefront of many battles for enlightened and humane health care despite indifference or opposition. He is an advocate for refugees, members of the LGBT community, people with HIV/AIDS, those suffering from addiction, homelessness, and living in poverty. Dr. Berger has also worked to promote methadone treatment, needle exchanges, documentation and recognition of the aftereffects of torture, academic infirmaries for the homeless, and clinical treatment of AIDS in Africa.

Key Facts

Led high profile campaigns to persuade government officials of the HIV prevention benefits of methadone and needle exchange programs

Involved in investigations of police treatment of detainees

Advocated for victims of torture through the founding of the Amnesty International Canadian Medical Network and the co-founding of the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture

His efforts led to the establishment of the first Canadian clinic for aerosolized pentamidine

Many controversial practices for which Dr. Berger has advocated are now considered mainstream

Has engaged with audiences all over the world through hundreds of publications and presentations

Professional timeline

Impact on lives today

Dr. Berger has been at the forefront of many battles for humane health care despite indifference or opposition. He is a tireless champion of social justice and accessible health care in Canada and the world. He has been a crusader never afraid of the controversial, but above all, he has served the needs of the sick and those who have suffered abuses of power. As a result of his advocacy, thousands of lives have been saved and many communities experience greater access to health care.

Picture of Dr. Philip Berger


  • Photo of Phil Berger at Induction

    Philip Berger inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame

    London, Ontario

  • Philip Berger co-founded Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care, coordinating nationwide protests by physicians against cuts to refugee health

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

  • Dr. Philip Berger Led the first Ontario Hospital Association team to Lesotho

    Service Abroad

    The team joined with Lesotho’s first publicly funded AIDS clinic. By 2010, 11,000 participants were enrolled with 3,600 people receiving life-saving medication.

  • Under the direction of Dr. Berger, the DFCM at St. Michael’s hospital established Canada’s first academic infirmary for people suffering homelessness

    Patient Care

    The infirmary continues to serve a wide range of patients to this day.

  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario established its first methadone committee on which Dr. Berger served as a member

  • In response to the stigma around AIDS, Philip Berger founded the Toronto HIV Primary Care Physicians Group and established the HIV Project Centre Primary Care Mentor Program to educate doctors and advocate for people with HIV

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

  • Joined the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto at onset of global AIDS crisis

  • Dr. Philip Berger began documenting torture sequelae in refugee claimants

    Public Health, Health Promotion & Advocacy

    This process led to his founding the Amnesty International Canadian Medical English Network.


His work has shown us the full potential of what it means to be a physician. That is a tremendous legacy.