Toronto, August 21st, 2022 – Today, Canadian Medical Association (CMA) members and delegates attending the Annual general meeting welcomed Dr. Alika Lafontaine as the first Indigenous president in the CMA’s 155 years history. Born and raised in Treaty 4 Territory (Southern Saskatchewan), Dr. Lafontaine has Metis, Oji-Cree and Pacific Islander ancestry.
As an anesthesiologist in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Dr. Lafontaine has been using his voice to create spaces where Indigenous communities can partner with physicians, politicians and policy-makers to improve Indigenous health care. Committed to eliminating the gap in the quality of care between Indigenous and non-Indigenous patients across Canada, Dr. Lafontaine drafted and co-led a national strategy with territorial organizations representing 150 First Nations and several national health organizations. That proposal was then submitted to the federal government on behalf of those First Nations — the Indigenous Health Alliance — to advance health care transformation.
“As I take on the role of CMA president, I want my fellow physicians to know that I see their struggles and I am deeply committed to making progress toward a better future,” says Dr. Lafontaine. “Together we will rewrite the narrative of what it means to be a physician, how to better partner with patients and team-based care. We will build a future for healthcare in Canada.”
In addition to his advocacy work, Dr. Lafontaine is a seasoned advisor who has served in medical leadership positions for almost two decades, including at the Alberta Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, HealthCareCAN and the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada.
Dr. Kathleen Ross becomes president-elect
As part of the AGM, Dr. Kathleen Ross was also confirmed as the CMA’s president-elect for 2023-24. Dr. Kathleen Ross is a Family Physician in Coquitlam and New Westminster with clinical work in community primary care, obstetrics and surgical assist work, including cardiovascular surgery, at Royal Columbian Hospital. She will start her mandate as CMA president in August 2023.
Dr. Katharine Smart completes her presidency
Dr. Katharine Smart completes her term as CMA president after a year spent advocating for the rebuilding of the healthcare system after the pandemic accentuated existing structural issues faced by physicians and patients in Canada. “The time is now to work together towards a better healthcare system for all. Solutions exist and will take courage and will to implement. The past year has shown us all that collaboration across levels of governments and organizations is necessary to create a functional and sustainable health care system that can deliver for Canadians.”