Canadian Medical Association

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Overview of leadership positions

The CMA has advocated for and with physicians at the national level for more than 150 years. Together, we have led critical change on issues from medical assistance in dying to protection for health care workers experiencing harassment and intimidation.

Joining the CMA Board of Directors or one of its committees is an exciting opportunity to shape the future of the health system and the profession. All eligible candidates are welcome to apply (eligibility criteria are outlined below).

This page will help you understand how the CMA operates and what’s involved in leadership positions.

About the CMA

The CMA brings the medical profession together to advocate for sustainable solutions to national health care challenges. Guided by our Impact 2040 strategy, we champion better health, health care and a thriving health workforce. To learn more about the CMA’s work, read our most recent annual report.

The CMA’s Act of Incorporation and Bylaws set out the rules that govern the CMA. Amendments to the bylaws are approved by CMA members at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Equity, diversity and inclusion

The CMA is committed to equity and diversity, reconciliation and inclusion. It is important that CMA leadership reflects the diversity of the medical profession and the communities it serves to ensure a wide range of experiences, perspectives, attributes and skills to develop better solutions, drive innovation and creativity, and enhance decision-making.

CMA Board of Directors

The CMA is a membership organization governed by a board of directors that is responsible for managing the CMA’s affairs and has the legal duties and obligations of any board in addition to the specific duties stipulated in the CMA bylaws. The board directs the organization’s work within the framework of our mission, vision and values (see Impact 2040).

The board is made up of the CMA’s president, president-elect and immediate past president, a chair, a CMA member from each province and territory with at least 40 CMA members, a medical student, a medical resident and a non-physician.

Terms for provincial/territorial directors are three years, renewable once; these directors generally serve two three-year terms. Terms for the medical student and medical resident directors are one year, renewable twice.

Board directors are selected via a robust nominations process. Each year, after a broad call for expressions of interest, the CMA Nominations Committee (comprising board members and members-at-large) reviews applications and approves a slate of candidates to fill board vacancies. The slate is then ratified by General Council (GC) delegates. Some GC delegates (e.g., provincial/territorial and affiliate society delegates) are CMA members appointed by their respective provincial/territorial medical association or affiliate society.  Other GC delegates are appointed by virtue of their position (e.g., the chair and members of the CMA Board of Directors, the AGM chair and vice chair, the president of each division, and some past officers).

Incoming board directors are invited to attend a series of orientation sessions.

CMA committees

The CMA has several committees to support its governance and overall activities. All committees include board directors who are appointed by the board. Certain committees also include members-at-large who are ratified by GC delegates at the CMA’s AGM and/or experts appointed by the board.

All committee terms are for three years, renewable once (except the medical student and medical resident positions, which are for one year, renewable twice).

Incoming committee members receive onboarding materials prior to their first committee meeting.

Current CMA committees:

Audit and Finance Committee

  • Oversees the overall financial management of the association, including financial risk management, annual budget overview and the external audit function;  
  • oversees the integrity and credibility of the association’s audited financial statements, liaises with the association’s external auditor and oversees the audit; 
  • makes recommendations on the appointment of the external auditors, the administration of the CMA pension plan and membership fees; and
  • receives reports from the risk management team and information updates on enterprise financial matters and year-end consolidated financial statements.

Awards Committee

  • Reports annually to the Board of Directors on the CMA Awards program in recognizing the achievements, leadership and contributions of physicians and individuals/organizations, consistent with the CMA vision; and 
  • is responsible for the nomination of individuals to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

Committee on Ethics

  • Elaborates, interprets and recommends amendments to the Code of Ethics and Professionalism and addresses problems related to ethics referred to the CMA;  
  • advises the CMA on matters pertaining to ethical issues that arise from scientific and technological progress in the health sciences and ethical issues of interest or concern to the medical profession; and 
  • advises the CMA on ethical issues related to its core strategies and priorities.

Governance Committee

  • Advises and makes recommendations to the board, and the AGM as it pertains to bylaw approval and on all aspects of the governance of the association (excluding nominations and appointments); and 
  • reviews member corporate proposals.

Human Resources and Compensation Committee

  • Makes recommendations to the board with respect to the recruitment, compensation, evaluation, performance management and succession planning for the CMA CEO;  
  • makes recommendations to the CMA board with respect to the compensation for all elected/appointed CMA leadership;  
  • makes recommendations to the CMA board on the high-level principles to guide and direct the subsidiary boards in setting compensation for the subsidiary leadership;  
  • has visibility of the CMA Executive Leadership Team as it pertains to compensation, evaluation, performance management and succession planning; and 
  • has stewardship of the Respectful Workplace Policy.

Nominations Committee

  • Reporting annually to the CMA GC, recruits and secures strong balanced leadership for the association;  
  • calls for nominations reflecting the diversity and demography of the physician population; and 
  • interacts with divisions, affiliates and the membership to bring forward nominees for ratification by GC.

Role expectations

The CMA has established policies and procedures to facilitate meeting  participation for board and committee members across Canada and clearly outline roles and responsibilities. 

Code of Conduct – It is mandatory for CMA board and committee members to sign and abide by the board/committee Code of Conduct and Organizational Expectations, which sets out requirements around conflicts of interest, confidentiality, communications and fiduciary duties (if applicable). If you would like to review a copy of the applicable Code of Conduct, please email [email protected].

Format and frequency of meetings – The CMA board has approximately five meetings per year (one to three full days per meeting) and additional meetings are scheduled as necessary. Board meetings are held virtually or in person with a virtual option. CMA committees have between two and four meetings per year, and additional meetings are scheduled as necessary. Committee meetings are held virtually and occasionally in person.

Compensation – Board directors and committee members receive an honorarium for meeting preparation and attendance time. Chairs of certain committees receive an annual retainer in lieu of preparation time. If applicable, the CMA also provides an honorarium for travel time and reimbursement for travel expenses.

Application and selection process

Nominations Committee – A committee appointed by members for members

The CMA bylaws, which are approved by members, outline the mandate of the CMA Nominations Committee under chapter 12. The primary task of the committee is to recruit and secure strong, balanced leadership for the association.

All members of the CMA Nominations Committee are ratified by GC delegates at the CMA’s AGM. The committee is comprised of one member from each province/territory; one member from the affiliate societies; one resident member; one student member; the chair of the Appointments Committee; and the immediate past president of the CMA, who chairs the Nominations Committee.

Annual call for expressions of interest

Every year, the CMA holds a nominations process to fill vacant positions on the Board of Directors and certain committees. This process is organized through the Nominations Committee, which welcomes expressions of interest from all eligible CMA members. (Note: Interim vacancies that arise between nominations cycles are considered by the CMA Board of Directors pursuant to the CMA bylaws.)

The Nominations Committee collaborates closely with numerous stakeholder organizations — including provincial and territorial medical associations, affiliates, associated societies and organizations representing underrepresented groups — to encourage applications and secure strong, balanced and diverse leadership candidates.

The application form and interview questions invite candidates to voluntarily self-identify with respect to their diversity attributes (with open text fields for responses rather than prescribed options to choose from) and self-assess with respect to various skills specific to the position for which they are applying. The application process is also designed to confirm CMA membership status and the absence of conflicts of interest pursuant to the CMA bylaws.

Application review and ratification process

The CMA operating rules and procedures allow the Nominations Committee to strike working groups, which are responsible for reviewing expressions of interest received for any position and selecting one candidate to recommend to the CMA Nominations Committee.

Each working group consists of the CMA Nominations Committee chair, the CMA Appointments Committee chair and up to two other representatives. In the case of a working group to select a candidate for a provincial/territorial director, the additional representative(s) come from the province/territory for which there is an upcoming vacancy, insofar as it is possible.

The working groups consider each candidate’s self-identification and self-assessment and responses holistically. They have the discretion to conduct interviews with shortlisted candidates as they deem necessary. In terms of self-identification attributes, the working groups seek nominations that reflect the diversity and demography of the physician population, specifically with a sensitivity to age, gender identity, sexual identity, ethnicity/race, Indigeneity, disability and regional balance.

In terms of skills, the working groups consider each candidate’s lived experience, professional standing and development, and/or academic credentials and preparation against terms of reference and/or job descriptions. Additionally, for board director positions, the following competencies are considered (i.e., knowledge, skill level, expertise):

  • Health sector perspective – Public health/population health and health innovation
  • Advocacy, political and policy perspective – Patient advocacy/experience and public policy leadership
  • Business and organizational perspective – Human resources/talent management, communications, finance and accounting, technology, risk management and social impact
  • Leadership and governance perspective – Corporate strategy and board/governance experience

Applicants for leadership positions are subject to the CMA Board/Committee Code of Conduct and Organizational Expectations. If you would like to review a copy of the applicable Code of Conduct, please email [email protected]. To assess conflicts of interest pursuant to the Code of Conduct, shortlisted candidates for board director roles and certain committee roles undergo a background check (including, without limitation, the following areas: bankruptcy, criminal record and social media), which the CMA conducts via a third party after the interview process.

The working groups bring their final selections to the full Nominations Committee, which reviews all candidates and presents them to GC for ratification en bloc (to be efficient with time during the AGM).

In keeping with nominations best practices, the internal work of the Nominations Committee is confidential. Candidates who are not selected to be put forward for ratification are welcome to request feedback on their application and interview, if applicable.

Leadership opportunities

In 2024, the CMA Nominations Committee will seek to fill vacancies for positions on the CMA Board of Directors, Audit and Finance Committee, Awards Committee, Committee on Ethics and Nominations Committee, as well as the vice chair of the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

Note: Consistent with the CMA bylaws and operating rules and procedures, the Nominations Committee has a mandate to seek candidates who are willing to serve two consecutive terms, and a position is not advertised when the incumbent is seeking renewal of their term.

How to apply for a leadership position

1. Determine if you are eligible

To be eligible to apply for a leadership position, an individual must reside in Canada, be a member of the CMA and a member of the medical profession (required under CMA bylaws section 12.2.1). If you are unsure of your CMA membership status, please contact our Member Service Centre.

For board director positions, an applicant must also:

  • not be a voting director or sitting president of a provincial/territorial medical association or affiliate society in May 2024 (required under CMA bylaws section 12.2.1 and operating rules and procedures section 12.4);  
  • agree to a background check (including, without limitation, the following areas: bankruptcy, criminal record and social media), which is conducted by a third party; to facilitate this process, applicants are required to provide their public-facing, professional social media handles, if any; and
  • be a member of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) to apply for the medical student director position.

2. Complete the application form (Note: The 2023 application deadline was Dec. 29, 2023.)

It should take you approximately one hour to complete the form; you are not required to complete it in one sitting. You will need to provide the following: 

  • details about your eligibility  
  • contact information 
  • brief description of competencies (i.e., lived experience, professional standing and development, and/or academic credentials and preparation) vis-à-vis the role(s) for which you are applying, and your understanding of the role(s)
  • brief, optional answers to self-identification questions with respect to various diversity attributes (including age, gender identity, sexual identity, ethnicity/race, Indigeneity, disability and regional balance) 
  • biographical statement of 300 words or fewer (view a sample)  
  • head and shoulders photo (600x600 pixels, JPEG or PNG format)

3. Submit the application form by the deadline (The 2023 application deadline was Dec. 29, 2023, and applications submitted after this date will not be accepted.)

Candidates will be notified between January and April 2024 whether they have been successful in moving onto the next stage, which may include an interview between Feb. 20 and 22, 2024 with a Nominations Committee working group. The interview serves as an opportunity to amplify the responses provided in the application form. Background checks will be conducted on candidates who are shortlisted for positions on the board and on certain committees. 

For candidates whose names are put forward for ratification, certain information (photo and biography) will be included in the Nominations Committee Report and on the CMA website.


Note: The timeline is approximately three months earlier than in previous years owing to the AGM moving from August to May in 2024.

Aug. 29, 2023 – Call for expressions of interest opens 

Dec. 29, 2023 – Call for expressions of interest closes (application deadline*) 

January to April 2024 – The Nominations Committee working groups review applications, conduct interviews and background checks as required (note: most interviews will take place between Feb. 20 and 22, 2024), and present their selections to the full Nominations Committee for approval 

By May 14, 2024 – The approved slate of candidates is published in the Nominations Committee Report 

May 29, 2024 – The Nominations Committee brings the slate of candidates to GC for ratification at the AGM

* Please note: CMA offices will be closed from Dec. 22, 2023 to Jan. 1, 2024. Applicants are encouraged to complete their forms prior to Dec. 22, 2023 to ensure that staff can answer any questions that may arise during the application process.


If you have any questions or require accommodation throughout the application process, please contact [email protected].

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