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CMA members’ forum dives deep on health issues

Response to the first-ever Canadian Medical Association (CMA) regional members’ forum held Nov. 23 in Vancouver has set the stage for increased involvement with members on critical issues facing the organization and the medical profession in Canada.

The Vancouver meeting brought together just under 100 demographically representative members from the four provinces and two territories west of Ontario. Issues discussed included:

  • end-of-life care;
  • increasing immunization uptake;
  • member engagement;
  • medical professionalism;
  • medical education;
  • sustainability of the health care system;
  • physician remuneration; and
  • physician wellness.

“This meeting was all about the CMA reaching out, engaging and taking a deep dive on the issues that matter to our profession and our patients,” said CMA President Cindy Forbes. “The CMA relies on input from its members since that is what sets the direction for our advocacy work on behalf of physicians and patients.”

The vast majority of participants who attended the forum had not previously been involved in CMA policy-setting work. As proof of that, a poll of participants done at the meeting showed that 78% had never attended CMA’s annual General Council meeting.

Along with participants who were new to CMA policy work, there were also several past CMA core committee and council members in attendance who were anxious to see how the CMA was going to engage with members differently.

“It is important that an organization continues to work to recreate itself and keep itself relevant,” said Dr. Susan Hutchison, a past member of several CMA committees and past chair of the CMA’s Forum on General and Family Practice Issues (GP Forum). “This type of meeting is excellent for that since it really is an opportunity to hear from different voices, voices that might not have been around the table in the past.”

Discussions during the day highlighted several recurring themes, notably that members want the CMA to continue to lead on national issues such as soon-to-be legalized assisted dying and improving immunization rates. Participants also said clearly that they want more and better communication on CMA’s advocacy efforts as well as more opportunities to engage with their national association.

“The CMA’s goal now is to take the success of the members’ forum and engage the rest of our members and colleagues,” said Forbes. “With technology, we have the tools to ensure that no member should feel disconnected from his or her national medical association.”

Members who want to provide their input on the issues being tackled by the CMA can engage at or on Twitter using the hashtag #MyCMAVoice.

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