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GC 2014: Pivotal moment for CMA and profession

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and Canada’s doctors are demonstrating true leadership in dealing with the challenges involved in sustaining the health care system and the integrity of the profession.

That was a message heard repeatedly during, and in the wake o,f the CMA’s recent General Council meeting in Ottawa.

It was a meeting that saw the CMA conclude a comprehensive national dialogue on end-of-care issues by making a fundamental change to its policy on euthanasia and physician-assisted dying by saying doctors can follow their conscience on this issue, as the law permits.

The meeting was preceded by fundamental changes to the CMA itself as its Board of Directors unanimously approved a restructuring of the organization which will see creation of a new subsidiary that will house the revenue generating clinical and knowledge products and services.

General Council had a whole new look this year as well, as a number of refinements and changes were made to refresh the annual gathering and increase time delegates had to debate issues.

Many delegates applauded all of these changes and noted the discussions and meeting itself was one of the most productive in years. Special recognition was given to the quality of the dialogue on end-of-life care and the exemplary work done by the CMA to clarify the language on end-of-life care issues.

Many of the changes reduced the time spent on ceremonial aspects of the meeting and the CMA pledged to working with past officers of the association to ensure the traditions of the CMA continue to be respected moving forward.

“I can feel the CMA really cares about its members,” was a comment made by a nurse who attended the meeting.

“We demonstrated leadership,” said CMA Board of Directors member Dr. Ewan Affleck commenting on the meeting in general.

“The improvement of Canada's healthcare system is a professional responsibility,” said CMA President Dr. Chris Simpson in taking on his new role. “If we are authentic leaders, and sincere in our intentions, we will earn the trust that Canadians place in us.”

“This has been quite a ride this past year,” outgoing president Dr. Louis Hugo Francescutti said after the meeting. “I am really looking forward to how we can take this to the next level.”

“The CMA is now moving forward in a healthy and enthusiastic fashion,” said Board member Dr. Pierre Harvey.

“We are in a phase of change at the CMA. You could smell it, taste it and feel it during General Council. I think it’s going to be an exciting time,” Board colleague Dr. Michael Giuffre said. Other Board members echoed the sentiment about the positive nature of the fundamental changes occurring within the association and the profession.

Many also remarked on the increased involvement of medical students in General Council.

“It’s clear a lot of people read the book ‘Race for Relevance’ and the importance of the younger generation,” said Board member Dr. Brendan Lewis. The new student ambassador program that saw the CMA host 10 Ontario medical students at the meeting for the first time was singled out for special praise.

Interim CEO Tim Smith acknowledged the hard work and creativity of CMA staff in implementing the changes for the betterment of members.

Forward any comments about this article to: cmanews@cma.ca.