I am seeking Ontario’s nomination to become the President-Elect of the Canadian Medical Association. I have spoken with hundreds of doctors, residents and medical students across Ontario to find out their thoughts on the direction of the CMA. Based on what they have told me and building on my own skills, these are the initiatives I would undertake as CMA President-Elect, the principles I would bring to the CMA Presidency:
- I am committed to the CMA’s vision for transforming health care and will continue to advance that vision. As a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, I have seen the impact of poverty on the health of the next generation of Canadians and I would work to change that. As we remind Canadians and their governments of the impact of the social determinants of health, we must not forget this most vulnerable group of Canadians. They are our future.
- I will continue to work on CMA’s behalf to improve Canada’s Pharmaceutical Strategy. In the role of Francophone spokesperson for the CMA, I was struck by the concern of Canadians in the cost of prescription drugs and in the shortages of various drugs are now a common occurrence. We could save billions on drugs by improved prescribing and by developing national purchasing plans. Government could negotiate a reliable supply of the prescription drugs Canadians need.
- I would promote the role mental health plays in the health of an individual overall. I will bring the influence of being a psychiatrist to the position of President-Elect of the CMA and work for the adoption of Canada’s first Mental Health Strategy, released this year by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
- I will continue to work to improve products and services and member engagement at the CMA. As a member of the CMA Board, I know the Board is committed to serving members’ needs, not just through advocacy but also with the tools they need to be productive in their practices as well as their personal lives.
- I will work with our youngest members: students and resident physicians to ensure CMA’s health human resources policy addresses the challenges they are facing. Students and residents are concerned there will not be positions for them when they complete their training. Our health human resources policy must be strong enough to accommodate individual goals as well as societal needs.
I have been a member of the CMA for over 30 years, a Board member for 5 years and a member of the Executive Committee since 2011. I have also worked at the CMA, serving as the Acting Associate Secretary General. My commitment to the CMA’s vision of “a healthy population and a vibrant medical profession” is well established. As the campaign moves forward, I will continue to speak with Ontario doctors, residents, and students to bring their vision to the CMA.
Je suis membre de l’AMC depuis 32 ans, membre du Conseil d’administration depuis 5 ans et membre du Comité exécutif depuis 2011. J’ai aussi travaillé à l’AMC en qualité de secrétaire générale associée par intérim. Mon engagement envers la vision de l’AMC pour « une population en santé et une profession médicale dynamique » est bien ancré. À mesure que la campagne ira de l’avant, je continuerai à m’entretenir avec les médecins, les residents et les étudiants de l’Ontario, afin de transmettre leurs perspectives à l’AMC.
If elected, my goal will be that your views form the voice of the Canadian Medical Association and so I invite you to write to me, call me, follow me on twitter and begin the conversation about your vision for the Canadian Medical Association.
Last year I sent a letter to the OMA requesting delegate status at the CMA Council, but I was turned down. I particularly wanted to attend because I had been contacted about my interest in the formation of a senior and retiremed doctors organization in the CMA which had an inauguaral meeting the previous year. I have continued to try to talk this up but it seems a long haul. Doctors Nova Scotia, the provincial organization there seems well organized and playing a useful role. I’d be glad to discuss this with you.
Another issue that I have long been involved with is Sickle Cell Disease. My interest started when I was an MPP in the 90s. I advocated for newborn screening and free essential drugs like penicillin. There has been some progress particularly regarding newborn screening – at least in Ontario. I would suggest that the CMA advocates universal newborn screening across the country. The US has national expectations regarding newborn screening and every state complies. Similar policy should be applied to other recessive genetic conditions including cystic fibrosis.
I hope this helps.
Thanks for the comment. The OMA always has many doctors,resident and students applying to be delegates, which is good since it means that there is a lot of interest in CMA. I hope you’ve applied again for this year because the selection committee does try to give different doctors a chance to attend each year. I did not know there had been a meeting to set up a group for retired doctors at CMA so I would like to hear more about this.
As for sickle call screening in Canada, that would be a good motion to bring to General Council this summer so I can help this happen. As a Board and Executive member at CMA, I cannot bring motions but such a motion could be suggested to Ontario caucus.
I was wondering if you would be willing to share your opinion on this article/letter by Dr. Murray Trusler.
What role/responsibility do you see CMA having in supporting these type of health initiatives in all provinces of Canada ?
Thanks to Dr. Breeck for posting this article with Dr. Trusler’s recommendations for improving the health of Aboriginal peoples in Ontario, although the recommendations might certainly apply in many parts of Canada.
My own personal view is that the evidence with respect to the health of aboriginal peoples is that strengthening their communities and promoting their political empowerment through self-government would result in improved health overall, and especially mental health. The evidence is well-summarised in this review article: Kirmayer, L., Simpson C. and Cargo, M. (2003), Healing traditions: culture, community and mental health problems with Canadian Aboriginal peoples. Australasian Psychiatry, 11: s15-s23. Doi:10.1046/j. 1038-5282. 2003.02010.x.
In considering Dr. Trusler’s recommendations in the context of the Canadian Medical Association, most of his recommendations concern provincial interventions and so there is not a direct role for CMA. In the past 5 years, since I have been on CMA Board, CMA has reminded Canadians that, in its provision of health care to various groups, including Canada’s aboriginal peoples, the Canadian government is the fifth largest provider of healthcare in Canada after the four largest provincial jurisdictions. This is the correct approach to me: the Government of Canada should be as accountable for the healthcare it provides as the provinces and territories are.
As well, I support the CMA’s recent emphasis on the social determinants of health and the role they play in the health of Canadians. Dr. Trusler’s recommendations relate directly to the social determinants of health of Canada’s aboriginal peoples and are in sync with current CMA policy.
Finally, the CMA, in my experience, has always worked with Canada’s aboriginal peoples, in the past through NAHO (National Aboriginal Health Organization), in the development of its policies with respect to the health and health care of First Nations, Inuit and Metis. This ensures that any policies developed by CMA can be aaccepted by both doctors and Canada’s aboriginal peoples as reasonable and evidence-based.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply Gail. Two followon clarification questions ?
1) You note that as many of the recommendations made to support aboriginal health are provincial health issues that there is no direct role for CMA to play. However, would you not say that CMA is shifting its past strategy from focusing all energies to the federal government level to paying more attention to the development of relationships at the provincial health levels?
2) You note your past positive experience of working with NAHO to ensure that CMA policies “can be accepted by both doctors and Canada’s aboriginal peoples as reasonable and evidence based”. What is your recommendation of how to uphold this standard given that NAHO’s funding has been cut?
It’s refreshing to hear of a physician with experience in mental health, youth and poverty – seeks to lead the CMA. These two issues are so inter-linked and form the basis for so many of health issues and are overlooked by our countries leaders. A leader with experience and empathy in these area can only be good for our nation as a whole. Good Luck, Gail.
MediSure Canada is a Canadian company on a mission to reduce the cost of ALL blood glucose test strips in Canada from average cost of $1.00 a strip to under 50c a strip. Many Canadian with diabetes struggle with the costs of test strips, and in fact many do not test their blood on a daily basis as they should, as they just cannot afford to do so. On behalf of MediSure Canada, best wishes for success in your CMA work, and in all of your other good work to help Canadians who are suffering with diabetes.
These are good questions.
First, you are correct that the CMA has begun to work with the Council of the Federation on several health isses that are nationally focussed, in support of the Health Care Transformation Agenda. Health Care Transformation is too important for Canadians so the CMA is building partnerships wherever it can.
Your second question, about maintaining the standard of policy development that can be accepted by both doctors and Canada’s aboriginal peoples is a tough one to answer right now. I have a lot of respect for the Assembly of First Nations, based on having met former Grand Chief Phil Fontaine and learned about AFM from him, so perhaps this would be an organization to work with. The “Idle No More” campaign is top of mind right now, but many issues raised by this movement are related to the social determinants of health, as discussed in Dr. Trusler’s writing.
Does anyone else have any thought about this?
Thanks for your good wishes, Rob. I don’t know that the problems that I encounter in my work are overlooked as much as they are overwhelming. The solutions are not simple and results take years to achieve. In a day or so, i will have a blog on tackling Child Poverty that considers some measures from Great Britain that have been effective. Watch ofr it!
Yikes! Being able to monitor results at least on a daily basis is recommended. Basic health care must be affordable. A resident and I were talking about the fact that many families are currently unable to afford the healthy food required by people with diabetes. This is also problematic.
Thanks for your good wishes and good luck with your work.