This week, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is holding the inaugural CMA Health Summit in Winnipeg. The billboarding for the meeting specifically says: CMA Health Summit: Inspiring a Future of Better Health. As a member of the Canadian Medical Association, there are four topics that affect the health of my patients and colleagues that I would like to be discussed at the Health Summit.
First, I hope physicians from across Canada will discuss the physician human resources concerns in their regions. Across Canada, the health of Canadians and their communities continues to be affected by a shortage of family physicians. As well as not having access to primary care, many Canadians also suffer from mental health problems and access to a psychiatrist is particularly difficult in many communities. The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists has just released a report on the shortage of psychiatrists in Ontario. In my community, the Young Minds Partnership between the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario has reduced the wait time for mental health access for children and youth to less than two months, but the adult waitlists continue to soar and the child and youth waitlists for mental health in other communities are not as good as ours. Other areas of physician practice have their own struggles with physician resources and it would be great to have an update and to hear how CMA intends to provide leadership in this area.
Across the country, other sectors are beginning to recognize the need for us to have a broader approach to gender than binary. As the Clinical Director for a Youth Psychiatry program, I have been working to develop an approach to gender for my program. My LGBTQIA2S patients tell me that their needs have not been met by the health care system and that doctors can be some of the least sensitive health care providers. This view has been confirmed to me both by trainees and colleagues, but it would be good to know that the Canadian Medical Association is also working to develop a more inclusive approach to gender.
Last year, I was appointed to the Board of Governors of Algonquin College. One of the strengths at Algonquin College is its approach to Truth and Reconciliation and Indigenization. The College has an Executive Director of Truth, Reconciliation and Indigenization. Through the Mamidoswin Centre, Algonquin College gives indigenous students cultural programs and services. I wish that Medicine were this inclusive of indigenous peoples. It is time for the Canadian Medical Association to adopt a compassionate way forwards toward Truth and Reconciliation. Can you imagine a blanket exercise for everyone at the CMA Health Summit?
Finally, there is a great need for one of our medical organizations to study all aspects of Physician Life. At different times, various physician organizations assist doctors with wellness, or our finances, or our continuing education and many other aspects of our life. The Canadian Medical Association is uniquely positioned to examine how we live, not statistically, but really live. John Keats was twenty-two years old, ready to sit the examinations of the Royal College of Surgeons, when he decided to give up Medicine in favour of a literary career. While most of us do not have other talents close to those of Keats, we do all make significant life choices to become and remain a doctor. It would be a huge undertaking to study physicians’ lives so as to better understand our hopes and motivations and how to sustain our idealism, but isn’t CMA suited to great undertakings?
I have great hopes for this first Health Summit and wish all those in attendance well.
(Note: This sculpture, called “Ideas Meeting” is the work of George Kalakalla. It is an expression of what I hope will happen this week at the CMA Health Summit.)