Like most in our profession, I went into medicine because I wanted to help people. Quickly after entry to practice, I realized that I could help more people by teaching students and residents and by ensuring those teaching and providing care had the resources they needed.
As I complete my second term as a Department Head and Provincial Specialty Leader in 2023, I have looked at the many ways I can continue to make a difference. One of these is through the presidency of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).
I hope to bring the skills, experience and passion of over 20 years of academic and health system leadership to help the CMA in attaining its vision of a vibrant profession and a healthy population.
As a health system leader during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was witness to its impact on our health care system, in particular on the professionals and support staff on our front lines. In response, some have left their profession while others have reduced their work hours which, combined, has resulted in longer wait-times and an inability to access timely care. As one measure, it is now estimated that one in five Canadians do not have a family doctor and projections suggest this is only going to get worse as more physicians plan their retirement.
The pandemic also highlighted the significant gaps and fragility of our system, as well as the great deal of variability in health outcomes across various segments of the population. We have long known that these inequalities are the result of individuals' and groups' relative social, political, and economic disadvantages – none more apparent than in our indigenous communities. Staffing shortages and service disruptions further increase the risk that these inequalities will widen even further.
I don’t believe our problems are insurmountable but addressing these issues will require time, effort, and resources. I believe the key elements, many of which are already strategic pillars being promoted by the CMA, include:
Canadians want change but are not confident that it will happen. A 2022 Postmedia-Leger poll reported that the majority of respondents agreed that "meaningful reforms" are needed to improve the delivery and accessibility of health services, but nearly 60 per cent were "not very" or "not at all" confident political leaders will look seriously at how systems performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and make necessary changes.
As national health advocates, the CMA and its provincial and territorial partners, need to step in and influence funders and policy-makers to make meaningful changes in our health system. Leveraging the expertise and creativity within our academic institutions, we need to champion innovative solutions to advance the health of all Canadians.
Drawing on my skills and experience as an academic and health system leader, I hope to assist the CMA in attaining its vision of a vibrant profession and a healthy population.
Summer Haze by José François