Protecting Health of Canadians: Job One for Canada’s Doctors
Yellowknife, Aug. 15, 2012 – Physician-delegates representing doctors from across the country have directed action from the Canadian Medical Association on a wide range of issues, including better monitoring of the environmental and adverse health impacts of industrial projects, concussions, sugar levels in commercial beverages, refugee health and end-of-life matters, among others.
“Delegates’ motions discussed today at General Council show the depth and diversity of the issues facing health and health care in Canada,” said CMA President Dr. John Haggie. “The common link, though, is physicians’ unwavering commitment to do their best to ensure Canadians have the highest quality health and health care.”
Delegates spoke out clearly in defence of quality care by passing a motion calling for reversal of the changes to the Interim Federal Health Program to allow for consultation and review of their impact on refugees and the health care system.
Addressing a major concern with the environmental and adverse health effects of natural resource extraction and industrial projects, delegates also overwhelmingly endorsed a motion supporting the creation of a federal-provincial-territorial partnership to monitor those effects.
In directing the CMA to foster a public debate and develop a comprehensive framework on end-of-life issues, delegates echoed the need for an inclusive, transparent and broad societal discussion on these issues.
The CMA will also be developing a strategy to promote the widespread use of standardized assessment tools for both baseline and post-injury screening for concussion of all participants in contact sports.
“We have seen many, many tragic cases involving the effects on athletes of concussions received while participating in sports,” said Dr. Haggie. “We must move now to find ways to better protect athletes and the CMA will be moving to do just that.”
As well, the CMA’s ongoing work to transform the health care system so that it puts patients first will be further guided by the motions that have been passed by delegates in Yellowknife.
Key motions related to health care transformation include several that received unanimous approval from delegates. They include a call for the development of a national dementia strategy and a resolution directing the CMA to develop a strategy to improve the transition of pediatric patients with complex and chronic illness to adult care.
Today also marks the first day of Dr. Anna Reid’s term as CMA President. During her term, Dr. Reid, an emergency physician from Yellowknife, will focus on innovation and transformation as key priorities.
“The Health Care Transformation initiative may be viewed by some as too big a challenge, but I refuse to believe this,” said Dr. Reid. “We must muster up the courage to change and to take on the journey.”
Dr. Reid said physicians must continue to tackle issues such as inequity as part of the effort to transform the health care system and her experience working in the North will provide a valuable perspective on that effort.
“I am proud to work in a jurisdiction that is taking on challenges in health and health care delivery head-on in a collaborative effort between doctors, health authorities and the territorial government,” she said. “Here in the North, with its challenges of climate, distance and lack of resources, we have to be innovative.”
Dr. Reid was also pleased to add her voice in support of a motion proposed by her colleagues to monitor and limit the adverse health effects of natural resource extraction and other industrial projects.
“Canada’s physicians recognize the importance of a strong economy, but not at the expense of ensuring that natural resource extraction be monitored for both health and environmental impacts,” said Dr. Reid. “Canadians expect no less from physicians.”
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