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Globe and Mail health columnist André Picard has been awarded the 2021 Sandford Fleming Medal for excellence in science communication by the Royal Canadian Institute for Science.

The medal, presented annually since 1982, is named after Sir Sandford Fleming, the inventor of worldwide standard time zones, and is awarded to Canadian scientific communicators.

The Royal Canadian Institute for Science noted that Mr. Picard’s work in Canadian health and medical reporting has been critical to the public’s understanding of health policy, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The value of scientific literacy, of a well-informed public, is not optional – it’s essential,” said Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario, during the online ceremony on Tuesday evening.

Mr. Picard has been a staff writer since 1987 at The Globe, where he has covered the AIDS epidemic, abortion and medically assisted suicide, among other key health issues. He has also authored six best-selling books, including his most recent, Neglected No More: The Urgent Need to Improve the Lives of Canada’s Elders in the Wake of a Pandemic.

“It’s very touching and humbling to win this prize, especially given the illustrious past recipients, including Ursula Franklin, Chris Hadfield, Joan Hollobon, David Suzuki, and other gifted science communicators,” Mr. Picard said. The Globe’s science reporter Ivan Semeniuk was awarded the medal in 2016.

“André Picard has devoted his life to reporting public-health policy. Because of that long-term approach, his expertise came into its own during the global pandemic of COVID-19,” said Globe editor-in-chief David Walmsley. “His book – more an inquiry – looking at long-term care homes and policies that can improve the lives of older Canadians, became a clarion call for reform.

“The Fleming Medal recognizes André’s authority as well as his international stature,” Mr. Walmsley said. “All of us share the pride in our colleague’s recognition.”

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