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Seniors care and assisted dying dominate speech

Just as these topics have done throughout his presidency, seniors care and assisted dying dominated Dr. Chris Simpson’s final remarks as president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).

“These are critical issues of great concern to Canadians right now, and the CMA has stepped up its game to show leadership and bring much-needed discussion and clarity to the national debate on these topics,” Simpson noted in his outgoing address to the CMA General Council meeting.

Simpson’s comments were underscored by the fact that both seniors care and assisted dying dominated debate at the annual meeting, and seniors care is the main advocacy issue the CMA is focusing on during the current federal election campaign.

Simpson provided the audience with a personal story of an 84-year-old patient who expressed her appreciation for the association’s focus on care for the elderly.

“This story, and a few others like it, are what kept me going this year when the frustration started to seep in,” he said.

Regarding the Supreme Court of Canada decision on assisted dying, he talked about how the CMA is “helping to shape what would become a defining moment in our country’s history.”

Given the profound differences expressed during the session preceding Simpson’s address, when the issue of conscientious objection to referring patients for assisted dying was raised, Simpson’s comments had particular poignancy.

“Throughout CMA’s ongoing consultation process, it occurred to me that what unifies us all in this matter, ultimately, is a deep sense of respect for others, their beliefs and their feelings. And if we keep this as a guiding principle in our work moving forward, we cannot go far wrong.”

Delegates and observers gained additional insights into his leadership on the key seniors care issue as he also provided a video rant, styled on those regularly delivered by comedian Rick Mercer.

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