Ostry, Sylvia

Sylvia Ostry, née Knelman, economist, public servant (b at Winnipeg 3 June 1927). Ostry was educated in Winnipeg and at McGill and Cambridge. She began her career in university teaching at McGill and Oxford. In 1964 she joined the federal public service as assistant director and then director, Special Manpower Studies, Dominion Bureau of Statistics (1964-69). She was director, Economic Council of Canada (1969-72); chief statistician of Canada (1972-75); deputy minister, Consumer and Corporate Affairs (1975-78); chairman, Economic Council of Canada (1978-79).

In 1980 she was appointed head, Dept of Economics and Statistics, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris. In 1983 she returned to Ottawa as special adviser to the Privy Council Office on loan to the Inst of Research on Public Policy. In 1985 she was Canada's ambassador for multinational trade negotiations, based in Ottawa. Called the "ultimate public servant," she has contributed especially in the areas of labour economics, manpower studies and productivity, for which she was given the Outstanding Achievement Award in 1987, the highest award for federal public servants. In 1990 she took on the chairmanship of the Centre for International Studies at U of T.

Retiring in 1992 she was named chancellor of U of Waterloo. She is co-author of Labour Economics in Canada (1979) and has also published on demography, productivity and competition policy. An Officer in the Order of Canada since 1978, Ostry was promoted within the Order to Companion in 1990.