Dr. Dennis Furlong, a family physician and a former Minister of Health, is remembered by his patients, colleagues, friends and family members for his numerous accomplishments, but also for his devoted care and attention for his patients.
Born in St. John’s, N.L. in 1945, Dr. Furlong demonstrated exceptional academic, educational and athletic leadership early in life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of New Brunswick and a master of science in remedial and adapted physical education from the University of Oregon. After five years of teaching in both Canada and the United States, Dr. Furlong received his medical degree from Memorial University and in 1977 he opened his family practice in Dalhousie.
Early in his medical career, he advocated for the health of New Brunswickers by serving on several advisory groups and boards, as president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and as a member of the Medical Council of Canada.
His leaderships skills led him into politics and he was elected in 1999 as the member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick for the riding of Dalhousie-Restigouche East. He became Minister of Health and Community Services, Minister of Health and Wellness in 2000 and Minister of Education in 2001.
Soon after his return to his medical practice in 2003, Dr. Furlong led an inquiry into the use of herbicide spray in Gagetown. In 2004, he published a book on the Canadian health-care system entitled Medicare Myth: 50 Myths We’ve Endured About the Canadian Health Care System.
The highly respected physician, educator, advocate and author was also an athlete. He had a passion for sports and played a key role in facilitating the 2003 Canada Winter Games, which were held in northern New Brunswick. He also won a National Research Council grant to develop and design a ground contact monitoring device for Olympic race walking.
After retiring from his medical career, Dr. Furlong continued to stay physically active. He won a gold medal at the Canadian Senior Games and competed in the decathlon event in the 2016 Pan-Am Masters Championships in Vancouver at the age of 71, where he set a provincial record representing Canada.
He was the recipient of numerous honours and distinctions throughout his life, including the International Rotary Paul Harris Fellow recognition, the Order of Merit from the New Brunswick Medical Society and the Canadian Medical Association’s Sir Charles Tupper Award for Political Action in 2012. Dr. Furlong died in 2018 at the age of 72.
Dr. Dennis Jerome Furlong is receiving the Order of New Brunswick for his outstanding contributions to New Brunswick’s health care system, his leadership in health education and public policy, and his significant and inspirational athletic achievements.