BC at the CMA General Council: Vive le débat libre

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 59, No. 8, October 2017, page(s) 430 Pulsimeter
Eric Cadesky, MD, CM

As Canada recently celebrated its 150th birthday, so too did the Canadian Medical Association, which held its sesquicentennial General Council (CMA GC) meeting in August. The event, often referred to as Canada’s medical parliament, is where physician delegates from across the country gather to debate pressing issues.

Fittingly, this year’s meeting took place in Quebec City, the site of the first CMA GC in 1867.

This year’s Doctors of BC caucus reflected our membership and included specialists, family doctors, students, residents, several doctors in their first years of practice, and an almost equal gender representation.

The CMA GC passed motions on issues such as immigrant and refugee health, physical activity, cultural awareness, antimicrobial stewardship, socially responsible investing, medical liability, and information sharing among Canadian medical organizations. Our caucus raised one of the most debated issues: opt-out insurance for medical students. The motion did not pass; however, Doctors of BC was recognized for its decision to introduce disability insurance at no cost to students for all 4 years of medical school. In addition to the debate on motions, we attended sessions on physician health and medical assistance in dying that advanced debate on these issues.

Health Minister Dr Jane Philpott spoke to the GC and took questions from delegates about the controversial tax changes proposed by the federal government. At one point the minister told the delegates that they should ensure they have read the documents explaining the tax changes before criticizing them. Led by our president, Dr Trina Larsen Soles, BC was part of a vocal response in person and online. (For those interested in engaging further on this issue, please visit www.doctorsofbc.ca/working-change/advocating-physicians/federal-tax-change-proposal.)

BC also took centre stage with a session on opioid use with Dr Christy Sutherland, who shared her experiences working in the Downtown Eastside. Dr Granger Avery of Port McNeill, BC, gave his valedictory address, finishing his term as CMA president by supporting team-based care and collaboration “based on respect” and encouraging professionalism in challenging times.

Once again you can be proud that your colleagues represented you well on the national stage. As always, the work could not have been done without the tremendous support of Doctors of BC staff.

Next year’s CMA GC is in Winnipeg. Please watch for calls in early 2018 to submit motions and apply to join next year’s caucus.
—Eric Cadesky, MD, CM
Chair of General Assembly/President-Elect, Doctors of BC