Following the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) annual general meeting (AGM) this past Sunday, you need to know the association and its leadership remain fully committed to challenging the status quo and creating an organization that better reflects the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
It is what the physicians and medical learners of this country, and the patients we serve, expect and deserve.
We were obviously disappointed with the outcome of the meeting and the inability to make the bylaw changes we felt necessary to place the CMA at the forefront of much needed inclusion. We know this disappointment is shared by those of you who voted in support of the changes and your voices will continue to be heard today and far into the future.
As the chair of the CMA Board of Directors I am heartened that many of you have reached out to me directly to express your disappointment and offered ongoing support for what we are going to achieve – creating space for everyone at the leadership table of the CMA and other health organizations.
In preparation for this AGM, we engaged with many members and stakeholders and they expressed strong support. The proposed changes in how we elect our incoming president-elect and how we select members of the Board of Directors of the CMA to increase diversity and inclusiveness were all extensively researched, discussed, and endorsed by a very broad range of physicians and organizations.
I accept the outcome of the votes. However, I will not accept the status quo for our association. The 154th annual meeting of the CMA will come to stand as a marker on the road to better.
I do not see this as a failure. Rather, we will reflect, continue to listen to the feedback and adjust our approach to achieve EDI on our board and committees in the future.
I am not giving up and I know our past president, our new president and our president-elect are not either. We all need to stand together to achieve this – and I know we can.
Remember, the CMA has a new strategy–Impact 2040–that reimagines the future of health, health care and the medical profession. Engagement, accountability, transparency, impact, equity and diversity are the guiding principles for this strategy and they remain powerful and unchanged by last Sunday’s events.
As I said at the AGM, we can’t just talk about diversity and equity: we need to make it happen by reaching out to and supporting colleagues who have not felt welcomed or supported enough to hold a leadership position on our board or committees.
We need diversity of thoughts and experience if we are to build a just and equitable future for the profession and for our patients. Nothing that occurred last weekend changes these facts.
The support of active CMA members, stakeholders and patients will be necessary to achieve our ambitious agenda and we will be engaging with you all in the weeks and months to come.
Onwards. I hope you’re in.
Let me know at EDI@cma.ca
Suzanne Strasberg, MD, CCFP, ICD.D
Chair, CMA Board of Directors
This piece was published in the Medical Post August 24, 2021.