The CMA congratulates the new Minister of Health, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, who will be taking the helm of a vital portfolio for all Canadians and welcomes the Honourable Carolyn Bennett in the new role of Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health. The pandemic remains a key concern due to the growing health workforce crisis and increasing procedural backlog, both representing significant and growing risks to the sustainability of Canada’s health systems.
The CMA strongly supports the many federal commitments to date to improve the delivery of care in Canada. And yet, even more is needed to support burned out health workers caring for people in Canada. We are pleased to see the addition of the new cabinet role of Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health emphasizing the importance of federal leadership in addressing nation-wide health priorities.
The CMA is eager to collaborate with the new cabinet to address these pan-Canadian health priorities:
Addressing Canada’s health workforce crisis
Canada is experiencing a health workforce crisis. Health care workers are burned out, exhausted and demoralized, all of which is exacerbated by the increasing shortage of health human resources. It’s critical to invest in health worker well-being. Many health workers have dealt with extreme working conditions throughout the pandemic and the toll it has taken will be long-lasting.
There are no quick fixes, and this crisis has escalated beyond what any province or territory can manage on their own. The CMA looks to the federal government for urgent leadership and investment in the integrated, pan-Canadian health workforce planning necessary to ensure a strong and sustainable health workforce. Federal leadership in nation-wide health workforce planning, including the necessary data infrastructure, will ensure Canadians have timely access to health providers while supporting the well-being of health workers.
The number of Canadians without access to a family physician or care team is at a record high, causing trickle-down effects throughout the health system and hinders patients’ ability to receive timely care. The CMA strongly supports the federal commitment to increase access to primary care providers – the foundation upon which an effective and responsive health system is built.
Leading Canada’s COVID-19 pandemic management
As some parts of the country endure devastating effects from the fourth wave, we continue to look to the federal government to maintain its leadership in Canada’s pandemic management.
As we have witnessed, support from the federal government has been vital in jurisdictions where systems have neared collapse. The federal government’s role was central to Canada’s vaccination strategy, from securing the critical supply of vaccines to increasing vaccination rates among those who remain hesitant or can’t access vaccines due to structural barriers. Again, we are experiencing a patchwork approach across provinces with the deployment of vaccine mandates and vaccine certification system.
The federal government’s leadership with a national, standardized proof of vaccination is a welcome development. The CMA encourages the federal government to continue its effort to ensure remaining jurisdictions adopt this approach.
Increasing federal health funding
With our health systems struggling to meet the needs of people in Canada, new health funding commitments by the federal government are vital to Canada’s economic future. With a depleted workforce and procedural backlogs at all time highs, patients risk experiencing a sub-par health system.
We count on the government to translate welcome election commitments into reality as soon as possible to see a $6 billion investment to help address backlogs, $9 billion to improve long-term care, and $3 billion to increase access to vital primary care providers.
Investing in reconciliation and anti-racism
We urge the federal government to lead the development and implementation of a nation-wide anti-racism plan that will address ongoing structural inequities and advance the inclusion of everyone in societal systems and sectors. The CMA is committed to reconciliation and calls for federal investment and action to implement all the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, including advancing the inclusion of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in health systems.
The pandemic has merely highlighted and exacerbated what we already knew: our health care system needs focus and attention. We, at the CMA, are ready to work with the new Minister of Health and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health immediately to rebuild a strong health care system we can all be proud of.
Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President
Less than a month ago, we called for decisive actions and an all-hands-on-deck approach to address the state of crisis in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Today, the modeling revealed by Saskatchewan’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab was both alarming and heartbreaking. The people of Saskatchewan need our collective support, as communities continue to be afflicted by COVID-19 with no end in sight, and health workers continue to provide care under extreme conditions.
It is time to stop asking nicely. We call on the provincial government to reinstate strict public measures, as recommended by medical experts, to protect the people of Saskatchewan. Any further delays are simply not acceptable.
As a proud Saskatchewan doctor now living in the North, I urge Premier Scott Moe to adopt the following priorities. We urge the provincial government to increase vaccination rates through mandatory vaccination in health care settings; immediately institute circuit breakers; and seek help from other jurisdictions to provide additional support for workers and patients in need.
We have come too far for too long to allow this situation to continue. As we’ve said before, it is time for courageous action and a focus on collaboration. The people of Saskatchewan deserve better.
Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President
‘Without health workers, there is no health care’: Health care leaders call for urgent action at emergency COVID-19 summit
In many parts of Canada, hospitals are overwhelmed, vaccine rates are at a standstill and public health measures are being reinstated to contain rising COVID-19 cases. Amid a growing fourth wave, health care workers are burnt out, demoralized and exhausted as they care for patients. In addition, many Canadians are waiting for much-needed procedures that have been delayed due to increasing backlogs.
On Tuesday evening, in response to this state of crisis, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) hosted an emergency summit. It brought together nearly 40 national and provincial health organizations, and included nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, personal support workers, psychologists, educational institutions, and other health organizations.
During the meeting, health care leaders identified both short-term and long-term actions to contain the fourth wave, lead an effective COVID-19 response and ensure Canada’s health system remains sustainable. These include:
- Taking decisive urgent and long-term actions to address staff shortages across Canada, examining issues including recruitment, retention, workload and safety, and bring immediate relief to workers in COVID-19 hot zones.
- Making immediate commitments at all levels of governments — including municipal, provincial, territorial and federal — to avoid the collapse of the health systems at all costs by implementing stronger public health measures and empowering authorities such as school boards to intervene and protect the people they serve.
- Providing urgent and long-term mental health support for health workers who continue to work in dire conditions to care for patients and keep the health system afloat.
“Health workers across the country are past the point of exhaustion and they need to feel like there is a light at the end of this endless tunnel. We need to aggressively work to implement public health measures — even those unpopular ones — to regain control. We can no longer ask our health workers to carry the load.” — Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA president
“Throughout the summit we heard common concerns and themes being shared on how to immediately support health workers in this crisis. It is clear, that we need a multi-pronged intervention, one that addresses the critical short-term challenges and one that also looks at beyond the COVID-19 crisis. While improved data collection and national health human resource frameworks are necessary, they do not fix the immediate issues. For our health system to make it through the fourth wave, governments and health organizations need to urgently work together to support our health workers. Without health workers, there is no health care.” — Tim Guest, CNA president
Watch the full news conference below for additional information:
Emergency COVID-19 summit tonight: Canada’s doctors and nurses meet to discuss devastating impact on health system
Tonight, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) are hosting an emergency COVID-19 summit to discuss the pandemic’s devastating impact on Canada’s health care system and health workers. The closed meeting is expected to bring together more than 30 national and provincial health organizations and will focus on identifying priorities for responding to the crisis.
The CMA and the CNA will host a virtual news conference on Wednesday (Oct. 6) to provide a summary of the discussion.
WHAT: CMA & CNA EMERGENCY COVID-19 SUMMIT: POST-MEETING DEBRIEF
WHEN: Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 at 11:00 am (ET)
HOW: Zoom Webinar - contact MediaInquiries@cma.ca for information on how to attend
- CMA President Dr. Katharine Smart
- CMA Quebec board member Dr. Abdo Shabah
- CNA President Mr. Tim Guest
- Rising numbers of COVID-19 cases have brought the health system to a breaking point in many parts of the country
- Vaccination rates are at a standstill and public health measures are now being reinstated in many areas
- Health workers are exhausted and demoralized, with many leaving the front line
- Significant backlogs of surgeries will affect the health system and quality of life of patients for years to come
On National Truth and Reconciliation Day, the Canadian Medical Association reaffirms its commitment to reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and accepts responsibility for the harm caused to Indigenous children, families and communities. Reconciliation can only take place when we all take on the responsibility.
The CMA is moving forward with the co-development of initiatives to address inequitable health outcomes in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. With humility and respect, we will partner with Indigenous Peoples. We will stand with them, if welcomed, to break down barriers that stand in the way of good health for all Indigenous Peoples.
As we look to the future, the CMA will continue to work with partners such as the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada to support and be in the service of change.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued a comprehensive set of Calls to Action following a thoughtful in-depth conversation with Indigenous Peoples across the country. Six years later, the need to act on the TRC recommendations has never been so pressing. When it met on Aug. 21, the CMA Board unanimously called for immediate action, including:
- Addressing the ongoing structural inequities that marginalize First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities;
- Advancing the inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in societal systems and sectors, including health systems;
- Committing to collaborative and respectful relationships with Indigenous patients and communities.
Together, we can contribute to true reconciliation and a brighter future, while never losing sight of our tragic and painful history.
Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President
Dr. Alika Lafontaine, CMA President Elect
Dr. Ann Collins, CMA Past President
Dr. Abdo Shabah, CMA Quebec Board member
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We are now witnessing an unprecedented health care crisis in Alberta and Saskatchewan – and patients and health workers are experiencing unfathomable choices and consequences. Early relaxation of public health measures has left two crumbling health care systems in their wake and the dire realities are now in full view.
What is happening is as heartbreaking as it was preventable. We are now in a situation where it’s all hands-on deck to address the state of crisis. Because at the end of the day, it’s the people of Alberta and Saskatchewan – patients, families, communities and health workers – who are impacted by this. As Canadians, we have a duty and a commitment to come together, especially in tough times.
Now more than ever, we must rely on the hard lessons learned and have the political resolve to take the actions needed to restore the health care systems’ capacities and keep populations safe.
The Canadian Medical Association is urgently calling on the provincial and federal governments to work together to: increase vaccination rates through mandatory vaccination in health care settings; institute effective public health measures such as ‘firebreakers’ or ‘circuit breakers’ to aggressively control COVID-19 cases; increase the mobility of health workers between provinces and support the safe transportation of patients to other jurisdictions who have ICU capacity.
Any and all measures available must be applied to curb the rate of mortality, support workers, and start addressing the consequences of patients’ whose care is now on hold indefinitely. This is a time for courageous action, and for politics to step out of the way of needed collaboration.
This is a time for governments, businesses, and citizens to step up and do the right thing. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures – and that time is now.
Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President
Image by Dr. Heather Patterson via Heather Patterson Photography.
As we enter the 19th month of the COVID-19 pandemic and in response to recent harassment of health workers, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is launching a campaign to encourage Canadians to express their support of Canada’s health workforce. The campaign “I Stand with Health Workers” encourages Canadians to show their support and appreciation of health care workers by adding filters to their Facebook and Instagram accounts or using the hashtag #StandWithHealthWorkers.
“Our health workforce has shown extreme resilience and compassion throughout this pandemic and deserve our gratitude. In the past months, we’ve seen a small proportion of the population devalue our healthcare professionals and it’s time to raise our collective voices and speak louder,” says Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President. As this pandemic drags on, we need to acknowledge and thank our health workforce who has been there from day one.”
In a recent survey by the CMA, 87% of Canadians agreed that supporting health care workers was a priority, recognizing that such support will lead to improved access to care and quality of care.
Time to step up the vaccine campaign
The CMA reminds Canadians that they can help by getting their COVID-19 vaccine, keeping up with social distancing, wearing masks and following local public health guidelines. The CMA also encourages governments to step up their vaccine campaigns to encourage vaccine-hesitant Canadians to get the jab.
“Being a Canadian means caring about your neighbour, being community-minded and making the choice to be vaccinated,” adds Dr. Smart. “It’s an act of compassion for the people around you and those who care for you. Health workers are doing their part. It’s time for the rest of us to do the same.”
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and the Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) partner for medical leadership training
The Fédération des médecins omnipraticiens du Québec (FMOQ) and the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop and deliver medical leadership training.
Under this agreement, the FMOQ and the CMA will jointly offer six medical leadership training sessions by 2024. The two organizations may increase the number of training courses and extend the agreement term based on demand, as training rolls out to physicians.
The content of these continuing professional development (CPD) courses is based on regular surveys of Quebec family physicians’ needs conducted by the FMOQ since 2017, and has been tailored to reflect the events of the past year, as the health system dealt with the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“More than 18 months into an unprecedented health crisis that is changing our habits and our lives, the medical profession needs now more than ever to show flexibility and openness, as well as leadership,” said Dr. Louis Godin, president of the FMOQ. “For family doctors, providing the best possible care to the public in these exceptional circumstances requires even greater engagement and innovation. The first training course planned under this promising new partnership with the Canadian Medical Association, “L’organisation du travail et la gestion du temps,” [Work organization and time management] is already fully booked. The Fédération is proud to support family doctors in Quebec by providing them with the rich and varied continuing development opportunities they need and want.”
“The crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the health system has to innovate if it is to remain functional, and to transform itself to meet patients’ current and future needs,” explained Dr. Abdo Shabah, member of the CMA Board of Directors and an emergency physician in Montreal. “Physician leadership is essential if we are to reach this goal, and the CMA is pleased to work with the FMOQ to help physicians in their training.”
Watch for additional dates for the L’organisation du travail et la gestion du temps course and for other new courses for FMOQ and CMA members
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On behalf of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), I congratulate you on your re-election as a Member of Parliament and Prime Minister of Canada.
Canadians have had their say. The federal mandate to improve Canada’s struggling health care systems and lead our collective pandemic response is clear.
Now we must urgently turn to the important business to fulfill this mandate, charting a sustainable course for our health future. It is time to reframe health in Canada.
During the election campaign, the Liberal Party under your leadership made important commitments to Canadians. The CMA strongly supports your commitments to invest $25 billion in new health funding to support:
- Finishing the fight against COVID-19
- A health care system for everyone
- Access to family doctors and primary care
- Continuing progress on reconciliation
As the fourth wave progresses, with increasing concerns in many jurisdictions across Canada, federal action is urgently needed to ensure that appropriate public health measures are in place, vaccination rates continue to increase and our most vulnerable are protected.
Health care workers and patients across the country face harassment and dangerous demonstrations at health care facilities across the country. The CMA urges immediate attention to protect the safety and wellbeing of health care workers and their patients.
Looking ahead to the federal government’s priorities for Budget 2022, a clear plan to increasing federal investment in our publicly funded health care systems is overdue. Underpinning these systems are our health workers themselves.
There is no health care without health care workers. Levels of burnout and increasing shortages have escalated. We must prioritize federal leadership to ensure immediate investment in pan-Canadian health workforce planning and resources.
The CMA stands ready to work with your government to immediately advance these priorities. On behalf of our 80,000 physician and medical learner members from across the country, I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your cabinet to discuss this mandate.
Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President
As we enter the last week of this federal election, a new survey conducted on behalf of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) confirms that a bold commitment to health care will win voters’ support.
Once considered a source of national pride, Canada’s health care system is the number one area in Canadians’ minds requiring federal investment (24%), surpassing the economy (22%) and affordable housing (21%). Climate change and management of the pandemic follow closely, making it clear that voters value good health, employment and housing, while recognizing that climate change and the pandemic have been, and will continue to be, disruptors that must be managed and mitigated.
“Voters are sending a very strong message to political parties and candidates – they expect federal commitments to fix our health care system,” says Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA president. “It’s time to step up and take a leadership position. Canadians are ready to support you.”
More than 90% of Canadians agree that federal investments in health care are needed to improve the systems, along with additional support and investments for health workers, better collaboration between provinces and the federal government.
Other key findings:
- 6 out of 10 respondents stated that the political party that prioritizes the health of all Canadians will earn their vote;
- 89% of respondents agree long-term care needs to be fixed for seniors/seniors deserve better long-term care;
- 87% of respondents agree that supporting health care workers will improve access to care and ensure quality of care;
- 76% of respondents agree the federal government must prepare for the next pandemic;
- 75% of respondents agree that addressing climate change will ensure better health for all Canadians, particularly future generations; and
- 66% of respondents agree that reconciliation with Indigenous peoples will improve their health and health outcomes.
Methodology: The survey was conducted by Abacus Data with 2,000 Canadian adults eligible to vote from September 3 to 6, 2021. A random sample of panelists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source. 3,137 panelists who were invited to complete the survey entered, but we are unable to determine how many were initially invited. Of the 3,137 who started the survey, 2,000 (63.7%) completed it, 453 (14.4%) qualified but didn’t complete the survey and 684 (21.8%) were disqualified. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/-2.17, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Statement by the Canadian Medical Association and the Ontario Medical Association on bullying, attacks and violence against health workers
Since the start of the pandemic, health care professionals have worked tirelessly to contain the spread of COVID-19, treat patients and help manage the public health response.
We have confronted uncertainty, exposed ourselves to risks, and worked prolonged hours, weeks and months all in support of our patients and the public we serve. We have not signed up for bullying, attacks and violence, at the hands of those who do not subscribe to science or health advice.
Unfortunately, anti-vaccine messaging has escalated in recent weeks; and, in certain cities and communities, we are seeing mounting protest which is precluding access to much needed health care settings and demoralizing health care workers
The health care workers who have worked tirelessly for months on end are being bullied and harassed for doing their jobs. This is wrong and unacceptable – full stop. We are in a health crisis of unprecedented proportion.
In medicine, we rely on scientific facts, evidence and rigorous research. The pandemic has only underscored the importance of these principles. We have contained COVID-19 outbreaks, treated patients, and developed life-saving vaccines.
But the pandemic is not over yet. As we face a fourth wave and the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, the stakes could not be higher. It has never been more important to stand with our health care colleagues and deplore any and all online or in-person threats. This is simply not acceptable.
Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA President
Dr. Adam Kassam, OMA President
While the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) welcomes recent commitments to advance vaccine certificate systems across the country, we are concerned the current patchwork of initiatives is leading to inconsistency and confusion. The CMA is urging all governments to make the necessary commitments to ensure current and future vaccine certificate programs are interoperable across jurisdictions. This will optimize privacy and address potential barriers that may lead to inequitable access.
“In the absence of a consistent federal approach to vaccine certification, a patchwork has emerged across the country leading to confusion and inequalities,” says Dr. Katharine Smart, CMA president. “We know that high vaccination rates and consistent public health measures are our best tools. Vaccine certificates and mandates can help us on both fronts as they increase vaccine uptake and help protect more Canadians from COVID-19.”
The current situation presents several concerns. On one end of the spectrum, people in Quebec, Manitoba, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia will have vaccine certification systems, while those in Alberta and Saskatchewan will not. In Ontario, in the absence of a province wide system to date, public health units are considering taking on this role. Other provinces and territories have been quiet or vague on the issue.
“While it is commendable that various organizations are moving proactively to counter the threat posed by the Delta variant, we worry this approach will create an even more complex and inconsistent patchwork of rules, creating confusion for those it’s intended to support,” adds Dr. Smart. “We call on governments to develop clear and consistent standards for vaccine certification that meet public health objectives.”
The CMA believes vaccine certificates enhance public health measures by facilitating access to digital immunization records and reducing the exposure of those at risk. Certificates also provide key support for reopening efforts and contribute to reducing the need for more restrictive measures such as lockdowns.
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