Canadian Medical Association

Dear members,

On April 3, I met with federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu to discuss the results of our member survey on the state of PPE, and to stress that more supplies need to make their way to physicians and other health care workers as soon as possible.

Minister Hajdu confirmed that, amid a global demand for PPE, the federal government is working with the provinces and territories to secure more supplies internationally, with bulk purchasing remaining the most effective way to procure these items. Additionally, the federal government is working with industry to bring domestic production online to ensure Canada’s supply of PPE.

Some members have asked why the CMA is not purchasing PPE. Our role is to advocate for our members’ needs and hold governments to account, ensuring they’re making procurement, supply and distribution top priorities – and I can assure you they have the necessary funds, the will and the influence to make this happen. However, the level of global demand and the unconventional tactics we’re witnessing in some countries are constraining the government’s efforts at this time – making domestic production an important endeavour.

Helping physicians navigate ethical challenges

The CMA has developed a Framework for Ethical Decision Making During the Coronavirus Pandemic, based on recommendations published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The framework is intended to assist physicians in the difficult decision-making process in cases where there are insufficient critical care resources to meet demand during the pandemic.

In an ideal situation, everyone will have equal access to medical treatment, but that is not always possible with high influxes of patients, such as during the pandemic. During these times, however, we must still do everything possible to care for all patients. Those who do not receive critical care should be given priority for other interventions, such as access to palliative care resources and/or a palliative care provider.

If you’re interested in reading more about palliative care during the pandemic, I refer you to the following CMAJ article I co-authored, entitled “Pandemic palliative care: beyond ventilators and saving lives”.

Free online training on palliative care

  • In collaboration with the CMA, Pallium is providing health care professionals with free access to six online palliative care modules in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These modules are designed as an introduction to the palliative care approach and focus on important knowledge and skills required in providing this type of care.

  • The online modules will be accompanied by a series of live webinars, which will feature experts answering health care workers’ questions on palliative care and the pandemic.

As a reminder, please don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions or suggestions related to COVID-19. Our Member Service Centre can be reached at or toll-free at 1-888-855-2555 (weekdays from 8 am to 8 pm EDT).

Thank you for your commitment and dedication during these challenging times,
Dr. Sandy Buchman

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