Canadian Medical Association

Ed Hobday 

Ed Hobday

Administrative director spends half century serving doctors in Saskatchewan

For physicians who’ve set up practice in Saskatchewan, Ed Hobday was probably their first introduction to the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA). Before the ink on their medical licences was dry, he would offer a welcome, learn a bit about them and thank them for their commitment to the province. Then, armed with an information package and business card, he would sell them on the benefits of joining the SMA.

“A lot of them were still trying to get over jet lag! I would walk them through how to join the CMPA [Canadian Medical Protective Association], show them the literature on MD Management, explain how the billing system works and attempt to answer any questions they might have.”

“Hopefully they felt I was somebody they could trust and who was there for them.”

That enthusiasm, respect and caring for physicians has been the hallmark of Hobday’s 49-year career as an administrator at the SMA.

He started in 1970, when the organization was in its infancy. The introduction of medicare in 1962 had made it necessary for doctors to negotiate fee schedules with the Ministry of Health. Hobday was hired for his economics background as a non-physician negotiator and over the years, he represented doctors at the table more than two dozen times.

“I’d like to think we’ve been able to influence the government to accept physicians as partners, that they have legitimacy in being part of the decision-making process in how the system works.”

In addition to being a tenacious advocate for physicians, Hobday has also been attentive to the professional, educational and financial needs of members. Over the past five decades, he has helped develop many support programs: a fund for continuing medical education costs, reimbursement for rising malpractice insurance, a locum relief program and enhanced training opportunities for doctors who practise in rural and remote areas.

Perhaps his greatest legacy, though, has been helping build an organization that’s widely recognized as effective, efficient and financially strong — with a positive work environment.

Hobday is humble about it all, and he’s proudest to have earned the trust of three generations of physicians.

“I got to see right up front how this group of physicians was focused on doing the best job for their patients, and I’m thinking, ‘Shucks, aren’t I lucky to be working for and with them.’”

“I have the best job in the whole world — when I’m done with the SMA, I’m done, done, done.”

Ed Hobday is receiving the Owen Adams Award of Honour. It is given to a non-physician for service to the profession in the field of medical organization.