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New poll recognizes physicians’ dedication to patients

While the provincial government may think that Quebec physicians are not working hard enough, they have received a strong show of support from the public.

A new poll conducted by Léger for the Quebec Medical Association (QMA) in March shows that doctors have full public support. The survey involved 1,025 members of the public as well as an equal number of physicians and 620 residents.

The survey found that the public had more confidence in physicians than in any other health care professional and agreed that doctors were caring and dedicated. However, the poll did uncover concerns about accessibility to doctors, an issue that Gaétan Barrette, Minister of Health and Social Services, is seeking to address with Bill 20 – proposed legislation that would impose quotas on physicians in Quebec.

Survey results were released at the QMA’s annual meeting, April 16 to 18 in Montreal, where the major topic of discussion was the new social contract between physicians and society. Leading international experts on the issue — Dr. Richard Cruess, professor of orthopedic surgery at McGill University, and Dr. Sylvia Cruess, endocrinologist and professor of medicine —indicated that physicians must better understand their obligations and society’s expectations. Both said that the medical profession alone cannot change the social contract; it needs to work together with the public.

Quebec’s Bill 20 was also discussed by delegates. Outgoing QMA president Laurent Marcoux indicated that “Bill 20 strikes at the very heart of the definition of the medical profession. Addressing the issue of the social contract is essential.”

Canadian Medical Association (CMA) president Chris Simpson, who attended the meeting, referenced the collaborative endeavour of the CMA and QMA to defend the interests of patients and the profession. The CMA and QMA appeared jointly at the Quebec National Assembly on March 25 as part of the Bill 20 consultation process.

Simpson stated that Quebec has an opportunity to take inspiration from health practice models that have been successful in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario to improve access to frontline care. “These models were set up thanks to close collaboration between the government and doctors. This collaboration is the key to the success of these models, which have improved access to care,” he said. Simpson also reminded participants that the CMA has been working with provincial associations on improving the health care system by prioritizing a national strategy for seniors.

The CMA and QMA also discussed the gap between different generations of physicians and acknowledged the importance of working to determine the “medical genome” that unites physicians of all ages.

At the end of the annual meeting, Laurent Marcoux handed over the president’s reins to Yun Jen, for a two-year term.

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