Canadian Medical Association

With our Impact 2040 strategy, the CMA is setting a course for improving the health system, health outcomes and medical culture in Canada; our guiding principles of equity and diversity are key to this work. Building on our commitment to inclusivity, we are proposing new governance measures to achieve equity and diversity in our presidency, at our board and committee tables, and in our other leadership positions.

These governance changes will be presented at our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Aug. 22, 2021. They will be supported by other initiatives, such as enhanced leadership coaching opportunities and more structural supports to historically under-represented groups.

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Search process for CMA president

Proposed changes:

  • All members would be eligible to vote to choose the candidate for the president-elect nominee position, in recognition of the president’s national spokesperson role. This would replace the current voting process, which is restricted to members from the candidates’ province or territory of residence.
  • Leadership coaching would be provided to prospective candidates.
  • Traditionally under-represented groups would be actively encouraged and supported to express their interest, to promote a more diverse body of candidates.

What would not change:

  • The CMA presidency is rotated alphabetically among the provinces and territories. The CMA collaborates with provincial and territorial medical associations to promote this process and to encourage members from the eligible province or territory to apply for the position.
  • The role of the CMA president is to be the national voice of the medical profession in keeping with CMA strategy.

Search process for CMA Board of Directors, committees and other leadership positions

Proposed changes:

  • Introduction of an evolving set of skills and diversity attributes, along with target ranges, for board and committee members
  • Creation of a Leadership and Diversity Search Committee tasked with recommending candidates for board and committee appointments who meet the requirements for these skills and diversity attributes
  • Collaboration with provincial and territorial medical associations to share the Leadership and Diversity Search Committee’s call for expressions of interest for board and committee positions
  • A clearer and more consistent model for establishing board and committee membership, with candidates ratified by members attending the AGM

Leadership and Diversity Search Committee

Would be comprised of:

  • one non-physician with a commitment to diversity and experience in governance
  • three CMA board members
  • three physician members at large with a commitment to diversity and experience in governance

Leadership and Diversity Search Committee (LDSC) members would receive training on unconscious bias and diversity tools and would work with a recruitment firm with expertise in governance and diversity. The LDSC would recommend candidates who meet the requirements for an evolving set of attributes and skills for ratification by members at the AGM.
 
The CMA board would appoint the inaugural LDSC for an initial one-year term. Thereafter, LDSC membership would be ratified by members at the AGM.

What would not change:

CMA Board of Directors

  • Size of the board would remain at 19:
    • One member from each province and territory, excluding Nunavut
    • CMA presidents (current, past and incoming)
    • One chair
    • One non-physician
    • One student and one resident
  • Transparent reporting to CMA membership 
  • Fiduciary duties

CMA committees

  • Reporting relationship to the CMA board
  • Fiduciary duties

Frequently asked questions

Why is the CMA proposing changes to the search process for its president and for board and committee members?

The current process is not effective in consistently ensuring the CMA has candidates with particular skills and attributes, including equity and diversity, in its presidency and at its board and committee tables. By formally including its guiding principles of equity and diversity in its candidate recruitment processes, the CMA is looking to foster a medical leadership that reflects the profession and patients and that promotes diversity in all aspects of decision-making.

How did the CMA decide on this proposed new model?

The CMA consulted with experts on leading practices in equity, diversity and inclusion, including the development of leadership search committees and skill and diversity attributes. The CMA also looked to other national professional associations for best practices in their leadership search processes, including the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, the Canadian Bar Association and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada.

What is the biggest change the CMA is proposing to its president search process?

All CMA members would be able to vote to choose the candidate for the president-elect position, who will then be presented for ratification at the AGM. Currently, only the members in the province or territory in which the candidates reside have this opportunity. Given the CMA president is the national spokesperson for the medical profession, this new process would allow candidates to introduce themselves to and secure the support of the full membership.

What are the biggest changes the CMA is proposing to its board and committee member search process?

In place of the inconsistent and varied processes across the country, a new Leadership and Diversity Search Committee (LDSC) would actively seek out candidates for board and committee positions who meet the requirements for an evolving set of skills and diversity attributes. The LDSC would replace the current CMA Appointments Committee and Nominations Committee. Candidates put forward by the LDSC would be ratified by members at the AGM (in contrast, candidates are currently ratified by a subset of members at CMA General Council). The new process would be transparent, with the CMA committing to sharing with its members the set of skills and diversity attributes it is seeking in candidates, along with target ranges. The LDSC would also report back to CMA members on its progress toward achieving equity and diversity in CMA leadership.​

Would members be able to vote for board and committee candidates?

Members would be asked to ratify the slate of candidates identified by the LDSC at the AGM.

What else is the CMA doing to drive equity, diversity and inclusion in medical leadership?

The CMA recognizes that its equity, diversity and inclusion goals will not be achieved by governance changes alone and is continuing to seek opportunities to provide leadership coaching and more structural support to historically under-represented groups. For example, in collaboration with Scotiabank and MD Financial Management, the CMA is providing $1 million to the Black Physicians’ Association of Ontario toward their work to break down structural barriers and provide mentorship and other support programs to Black physicians and medical learners.

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