Canadian Medical Association

Dear members,

Since this pandemic was declared more than 13 weeks ago, medical professionals have been facing intense demands.

A shortage of PPE, changing practice protocols and the threat of contracting the virus – coupled with the emotional and family demands created by social distancing measures – left many scrambling to keep up with these day-to-day pressures. In some cases, your own needs and well-being came last.

Although more and more of the focus these days has turned to “returning to normal”, we believe all health care providers need to take the time to recognize that what we’ve been coping with is not normal. And in the coming weeks and months, as the immediate urgency of this pandemic subsides, you may need help.

Today, the CMA is taking action to ensure medical professionals across Canada can get support. We are launching a new Wellness Support Line to provide bilingual, specialized 24/7 mental health support and counselling to physicians, residents, medical students and their immediate family. This will complement existing resources provided through provincial and territorial physician health programs.

The support line, funded by Scotiabank and MD Financial Management, is being offered in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and Nunavut – through partnerships with the provincial/territorial medical associations. Other regions already offer highly tailored, established services, which will continue to support their physicians. 

The launch of this new support line means physicians and medical learners across Canada will now have access to wellness support − a major step forward in our ongoing efforts to address physician health. 

Learn more about the support line and the services in your region

With COVID-19 forcing a re-set in the health care system, we should also take this opportunity to re-set medical culture. As Dr. Jillian Horton explained in a recent blog about stigma, “I don’t think it’s a disgrace to need help. I do think it’s a disgrace that we work in a culture that still has a tendency to frame it that way.”

Supporting physician wellness is foundational for the CMA, and this support line is one of several initiatives underway to ensure that by caring for ourselves, we can continue to care for others. 

Please visit our COVID-19 page for more health and wellness resources, including how to recognize burnout, build peer support systems, and cope with psychological distress.

As a reminder, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or suggestions. Our Member Service Centre can be reached at memberservicecentre@cma.ca or toll-free at 1-888-855-2555 (weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm EDT).

Thank you and be well,
Dr. Sandy Buchman


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