CFO of the Year Nathalie Cadieux talks work, community and family

Nathalie Cadieux
Nathalie Cadieux, executive vice-president and CFO of The Ottawa Hospital (supplied)

With the demand for public health care outpacing the ability of the system to keep up, Nathalie Cadieux’s job as executive vice-president and chief financial officer of The Ottawa Hospital has never been so challenging, says the CFO of the Year for 2023.

“Demands on our services have never been this high,” she says. “They were high before the pandemic, but the pandemic really heightened that because of some of the slowdowns that occurred and also just the lack of primary care in general.

“The demand far exceeds our financial capacity and I think that’s true for the entire health-care sector, not just The Ottawa Hospital. We want so much to do more, but we are limited by that and by our funder, the Ministry of Health,” she explains.

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Cadieux was born in Montreal and grew up in Gatineau. After graduating from the Université du Québec en Outaouais with a degree in business administration and accounting, she began her career as an auditor in the Ottawa office of KPMG LLP, while studying to become a chartered accountant. She earned her CA designation in 1996 and became a CPA, CA when the Canadian accounting profession merged a decade ago.

Cadieux recalls how, when she started her career, finance opportunities for women, including the prospect of securing a partnership at a major accounting firm, were limited. “I really couldn’t see a long-term career there for myself,” she says.

In 1998, she moved into the health-care industry, becoming a financial analyst at Bruyère Continuing Care. Two years later, she accepted a position as joint controller for the Hawkesbury General Hospital and Winchester District Memorial Hospital.

“As a finance professional, I probably could have worked in any industry, but I chose health care because of the focus on people and giving back to the community. That, to me, is so rewarding,” says Cadieux. 

She began her tenure at TOH in 2002 as manager of budget and reporting, was promoted to director of budgeting and reporting in 2005, and returned as corporate financial controller in 2010 after working for one year at the Université du Québec en Outaouais as director of finance.

Cadieux became executive vice-president and CFO at TOH in 2015 and has steadily increased her responsibilities in that senior portfolio. Today, she has responsibility for all of the hospital’s finance functions, procurement and supply chain, business development, and part of its human resources portfolio.

“When I started in 2002, after the merger of the four hospitals — General, Civic, Riverside and Grace — the annual budget was around $400 million. It’s grown close to $1.6 billion. It continues to grow because we’re adding more beds and we’re adding more programs,” she says.

“Nathalie is an integral part of our leadership team at The Ottawa Hospital,” says TOH president and CEO Cameron Love. 

“Since becoming executive vice-president and chief financial officer, Nathalie has strengthened and improved the financial position of our organization, provided exceptional leadership within TOH and across the province, developed strong community partnerships, and prepared us well as we build our new campus and plan for the future of health care,” says Love. “She is so deserving of this recognition.”

Cadieux was chosen CFO of the Year by the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Board of Trade.

“I’m so honoured,” says Cadieux, 52. “Going to work every day is not a chore. I love my job. And so to get this award is just a huge bonus.” 

Cadieux participates in discussions with various stakeholders, including other accounting firms, on how best to support hospital reporting and accounting. 

“Since I’ve been CFO in 2015, I’ve been focusing on improving the financial health of the organization. Our financial health has definitely improved and this has positioned us really well for the upcoming (Civic) hospital redevelopment, which will be huge and will require a lot of financing and investment,” Cadieux says.

According to estimates, the construction of the Ottawa Hospital’s new Civic campus is expected to pump nearly $2 billion into the local economy and create more than 4,000 full-time jobs annually over the four-year life of the project.

The massive infrastructure project has a total price tag of about $2.8 billion. Construction of the 2.5-million-square-foot health-care facility at Dow’s Lake is slated to begin in 2024 and wrap up in 2028.

Away from the office, Cadieux and her husband Norman have three sons — Mathieu, 25, who is also a CPA; Samuel, 22; and Alexis, 18.

“I’m the proud mother of three boys. I’m also a football and a hockey mom. We’re huge fans of the Ottawa Senators and the Ottawa Redblacks,” she says.

Cadieux places a strong emphasis on fitness and health, working out every morning at the gym to keep physically and mentally sharp. “My other passion is travelling. Europe is probably my favourite destination,” she says.

Cadieux recently became a board member with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Ottawa and serves on its finance committee. 

“I’ve got over 25 years of experience and I really want to give back,” she says.

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