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"More Doctors. More Care:" A Promise Yet Unfulfilled - The Canadian Medical Association's brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health concerning health human resources

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9438
Date
2009-04-28
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2009-04-28
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Text
The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) brief submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health makes 12 practical recommendations within the jurisdiction of the federal government for investing in the capacity needed to expand and retain our practising physician population. These recommendations are a clarion call for pan-Canadian planning and innovative thinking to meet an ever-increasing demand for physician services from the Canadian public. CMA's research on Health Care Transformation has shown that a commitment to ensuring an adequate supply of health human resources (HHR) is a common trait shared by high-performing European health systems. The last federal election campaign saw most political parties pledge to urgently address HHR shortages. Now is the time to keep those election commitments. A. Capacity Cuts to medical school enrolment in the 1990s contributed to Canada's significant shortage of physicians. Growing demand for physician services, the aging of the physician population and changing practice styles among younger physicians are further compounding the problem. Seriously addressing HHR shortages is crucial to transforming Canada's health care system into one that is truly patient focused. Canada should strive for self-sufficiency in physician supply and do more to repatriate Canadians studying and practising medicine abroad. The CMA supports bringing into practice qualified international medical graduates (IMGs) already in Canada. IMGs should be assessed according to the same evaluation standards as Canadian graduates and more should be done to reduce the backlog in assessing IMGs. With recent increases to medical school enrolment, more support must also be given for the capital infrastructure and faculty required to ensure the highest standard of medical education. B. Retention Competition for physicians is an issue with both international and inter-provincial/territorial facets. The revised Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) and bilateral agreements will ease the movement of health professionals across jurisdictions, but may exacerbate retention difficulties in underserviced areas. Canada should be active in retaining and repatriating our health care professionals, particularly since the predicted physician shortage in the United States may result in a return to the physician out-migration seen in the 1990s. C. Innovation Canada must do more to encourage innovation within our health care system. Collaborative care - including care delivered with the assistance of Physician Assistants (PAs) - and advances in information technology hold the promise of helping create a more efficient health care system that provides higher quality care. Introduction Canada has suffered from a significant physician shortage since the mid-1990s. Nationally, we rank 26th of 30 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries in physician-to-population ratio. We would need 20,000 new physicians just to meet the OECD average. Figure 1: Physicians per 1000 population (including residents) Source: OECD 2008 Health Data; CMA Physician Resources Evaluation Template During the 2008 federal election campaign, four of the five parties represented in the House of Commons recognized the urgency of this situation and promised measures that would address HHR shortages. Following through on these promises is critical if we are to transform Canada's health care system into one that truly puts the needs of patients first. Research conducted for CMA's Health Care Transformation initiative demonstrates that European countries whose health care systems outperform our own all share a strong commitment to HHR, as demonstrated by their higher physician-to-population rankings. A. Capacity First-year medical school enrolment was already in decline when health ministers imposed a further 10% cut resulting in a low of 1,577 places in 1997. While there have been substantial increases since then, it took a decade to rebound. In 2007, first-year enrolment stood at 2,569 - 63% higher than a decade earlier. If we had left our domestic production unchanged, we would have almost 1,300 more physicians than we have today. Canada remains well behind other industrialized countries in the education and training of physicians. In 2005, Canada graduated 5.8 physicians per 100,000 population, 40% below the 9.6 average for the OECD. Currently, between 4 and 5 million Canadians do not have a family physician. Over one-third of all Canadian physicians are over the age of 55. Many will either retire soon or reduce their practice workload. Most are not accepting new patients. Ironically, advances in medicine and lifestyle that are helping Canadians live better and longer also mean increased demand for health care professionals. An aging population with high expectations of the health care system is increasing pressure on health care providers to ensure they maintain a high quality of life through their elder years. A growing culture of 'health consumerism,' facilitated by the Internet has resulted in a very knowledgeable patient population that expects top quality care delivered in a timely manner by the appropriate health professional. Advances in medical diagnostics and technology, new and evolving diseases and increasingly complex protocols and guidelines for medical care all increase the demand for physician services. Declining mortality rates for patients with diseases such as cancer have increased treatment of what have become 'chronic' diseases. In a collaborative care setting, physicians often take responsibility for the most complex patients. There is evidence of a cultural change among physicians to place greater importance on their home life by working less. This trend may have a positive effect on the health of the profession but it means Canada will need more physicians to provide the same volume of services. Greater coordination among jurisdictions is needed to facilitate HHR planning on a national scale. Canada's doctors and other health professions are ready to assist policy-makers in their planning and coordination to better meet the health care needs of Canadians. During the 2008 federal election campaign, most political parties recognized the urgency of addressing HHR shortages. The Conservative Party, specifically, promised to fund 50 new residency positions to increase supply of physicians in areas of priority need. Recommendation 1: The federal government should fulfill its promise to fund 50 new residency positions at a cost of $10 million per year for four years. Support for IMGs The CMA fully supports bringing into practice qualified IMGs already in Canada. Canada has historically benefited from a steady flow of IMGs to our country. In fact, close to one quarter of all physicians in Canada and over 50% of doctors in Saskatchewan are IMGs. Many areas in Canada would have no physicians if not for the contribution of these practitioners. While IMGs are a boon to Canada, actively recruiting from developing countries is not an acceptable solution to our physician shortage. Canada must strive for greater self-sufficiency in the education and training of physicians. In fact, self-sufficiency is a key principle of the government's Advisory Committee on Health Delivery and Human Resources' Framework for Collaborative Pan-Canadian Health Human Resources Planning. CMA supports online assessment tools and websites that provide information to foreign-trained physicians so they know what standards they must meet once they arrive in Canada. In 2006, over 1700 people used the online assessment tool established by the Medical Council of Canada (MCC). CMA also supports applying the same evaluation standards to international graduates as it does to graduates of Canadian medical schools. Despite a four-fold increase in the number of IMGs in ministry-funded postgraduate training programs over the last decade, there is still a backlog of IMGs awaiting entry into these programs. About 1300 IMGs applied for a postgraduate training position last year but only 350 (27%) were successful. CMA recommends that funding be made available to provinces for use in mentoring IMGs towards licensure. This could lower costs for the IMGs, pay the community preceptors, cover operational costs and defray other expenses. It is estimated that up to 1500 Canadians are studying medicine abroad. Two-thirds of these IMGs want to come home to complete their postgraduate training. Canada turns away four good applicants for every student accepted into medical school. Increased training opportunities for all groups of IMGs will ensure that Canada fully utilizes the skills and knowledge of its citizens who have studied medicine. Recommendation 2: The federal government should make $5 million (over five years), available to provinces/territories to address the backlog of IMGs through community preceptorship programs that mentor and assess IMGs for integration into the physician community. Recommendation 3: The federal government should take concrete steps to ensure Canada becomes self-sufficient when it comes to the supply of health care professionals. Recommendation 4: The federal government should continue to fund information tools such as the IMG-Canada website to better inform offshore physicians. Infrastructure and faculty Canada's teaching centres have had to absorb increases in operational and infrastructure costs to accommodate increased enrolment. This includes instructors, space, overhead and supplies. While it appears that the number of faculty members has kept pace with the increased number of medical students, part-time faculty now make up a much larger proportion of the total than 10 years ago. i In addition to the traditional academic centres, much of the training of doctors now occurs in a community environment. Mentoring is provided by physicians who may have less experience or resources than do those in the larger centres. Those who teach often experience lost productivity in their practice and receive little or no remuneration. This deficiency must be addressed to achieve a sustainable educational workforce. Recommendation 5: The federal government should implement a Health Human Resources Infrastructure Fund in the amount of $1 billion over 5 years to expand health professional education and training capacity by providing funding to support the: * Direct costs of training providers; * Indirect or infrastructure costs associated with the educational enterprise; and * Resources that improve Canada's data collection and management capacity in the area of health human resources. B. Retention of Canadian Physicians Competition for physicians is both an international and an inter-jurisdictional challenge. The new Agreement on Internal Trade within Canada and numerous bilateral agreements will no doubt ease the movement of health professionals. This may exacerbate the already difficult task of retaining physicians in underserviced areas. On the positive side, it is hoped this will facilitate the movement of physicians who provide short-term relief for physicians needing time off for continued professional development and vacation (i.e., locum tenens). Repatriation As the political situation and health care plans evolve south of our border, Canada should remain active in the quest to retain the health professionals we have educated and trained and make it easier for those who have emigrated to return to practice in Canada. The Conservative Party committed in the 2008 election campaign to create a repatriation fund for Canadian physicians practising abroad. The federal government should keep this important commitment. Migration to the United States peaked in the late 1990s when Canada lost between 600 and 700 physicians per year. While some physicians returned to Canada each year, our net losses for this period were over 400 per year. Today we are enjoying small net gains each year but this may not last given the predicted shortages in the U.S. of between 80,000 and 100,000 physicians in the years ahead. We can expect U.S. recruiters to ramp up activities in Canada in the near future. Recommendation 6: The federal government should fulfill its election promise to establish a fund of $5 million per year over four years to help Canadian physicians living abroad who wish to relocate to Canada. It is thought this initiative could bring back as many as 300 Canadian physicians over four years. Recommendation 7: The federal government should establish a Health Professional Repatriation Program in the amount of $30 million over 3 years that would include the following: * A secretariat within Health Canada that would include a clearinghouse function on issues associated with health care workers returning to practise in Canada. * An ad campaign in the United States. * A program of one-time relocation grants for returning health professionals. Physician Health and Well Being Ultimately, we hope that healthier physicians will create a more vibrant profession. Hopefully these healthier physicians will in turn create a more healthful professional environment that will support their ability to provide patient care of the highest quality. Through programs and conferences, the CMA has contributed to growing efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding physician ill-health and to support a new, healthier culture for the profession. Given the myriad other issues that contribute to our doctor shortage, it is clear that Canada cannot afford to lose a single physician to ill health. Our research shows that the most stressful aspect of the medical profession is being on call after hours. Physicians average 50 hours a week in the usual settings of office, hospital or clinic but then 70% are on call for another 30 hours per week. In small communities, physicians are often on call all the time. A quarter of all physicians face some form of mental health challenge that makes their work difficult. This is higher than the 1 in 5 Canadians that will face a mental illness over their lifetime.ii The ongoing pressures experienced by overworked physicians can result in stress related disorders and burn-out and are frequently a precursor to more significant physical and mental health problems. If not addressed early, these conditions can lead to physicians taking prolonged periods of time off work, changing their practice patterns or leaving the practice of medicine altogether. Prevention programs are the key to assisting physicians before they are at significant risk. The CMA visited such a program in Norway which has been shown to significantly reduce burn-out and reduce the subsequent time-off work related to stressiii. A program to enhance physician resiliency and prevent stress related disorders, based on the Norway model, could be expanded to include services for all health professionals. The potential impact would be improved provider health and morale, reduced sick days and fewer long-term leaves. Recommendation 8: The federal government should invest in research directed at assessing the quality of work life among health workers through an interprofessional survey at a cost of $1.5 million. Recommendation 9: The federal government should explore the feasibility of developing a 'made in Canada' Resiliency Program for Health Professionals that would include the development of a feasibility study, including a business case, and a pilot curriculum, at a cost of $500,000. C. Innovation While Canada must do more to increase both our supply and retention of HHR, we must also encourage innovation within our health care system to make better use of our existing health resources. Collaborative models of interprofessional care and advances in information technology hold the promise of helping create a more efficient health care system that provides higher quality care. Physician Assistants Increasingly physicians are working in interprofessional teams that may include professions that are relatively new to Canada's health workforce such as physician assistants (PAs). The CMA accredits PA curricula and has held two conferences to promote the use of PAs in all levels of care. Recommendation 10: The federal government should fund a study to evaluate the impact of physician assistants on access to health care and to determine their cost effectiveness relative to other providers at cost of $150,000. Technology to Support Health Care Delivery Information technology will continue to create a more efficient and effective health care system. It will lead to more patient safety, more Canadians finding a physician, better care, cost avoidance such as eliminating duplicate tests and the establishment of collaborative interprofessional health care teams. Canada's adoption of electronic medical records lags behind other OECD countries. We only spend a third of the OECD average on information technology in our hospitals. The adoption of EMRs in community settings (primary care, home care and long-term care facilities) also trails most other countries (Figure 2iv). This is not due to any general resistance by providers, but rather a combination of: a lack of evidence on how best to use electronic records to improve care delivery; a need to improve the return on investment for physicians by providing value-added solutions such as greater connectivity to lab results, drug data and colleagues; the time it takes to implement a new electronic record capability and a lack of funds to acquire new technology. Recent investments in Canada Health Infoway (CHI) will help address some of these issues but it is estimated that for Canada to have a fully automated health care delivery system we need to invest $ 10 to $12 billionv. An overall investment of $2 billion is required to fully IT enable the community-based health care delivery sector. While Budget 2009 provided $500 million to CHI for EMRs, more is still required. Recommendation 11: The federal government should provide a further investment of $500 million for new technology to fully enable all points of care in the community settings and an enhanced change management program to speed up EMR adoption. Recommendation 12: The federal government should create a $10-million fund to establish an applied research program for the next five years that will provide evidence on how best to integrate information technology into the health care delivery system. D. Conclusion Canada's doctors believe that we can build a health care system where all Canadians can get timely access to quality health care services regardless of their ability to pay. Developing a comprehensive HHR strategy that assures an adequate supply of all health care providers, including physicians, is a pillar of achieving timely access to high quality care. Building such a system requires that we shift our attitude and move to implement new strategies, new ideas and new thinking. That new thinking must begin with a commitment to act now to address Canada's physician shortage. A promise made must be a promise fulfilled. References i Canada's Health Care Providers 2007, Ottawa: CIHI, 2007 ii Frank E. Canadian physicians healthy - national survey finds. A report from the 2008 International Conference on Physician Health. London, UK Nov 2008. iii Isaksson Ro, K et al. Counselling for burnout in Norwegian doctors : One year cohort study. BMJ. November 2008. Vol 337, 1146-9. iv * Count of 14: EMR, EMR access other doctors, outside office, patient; routine use electronic ordering tests, prescriptions, access test results, access hospital records; computer for reminders, Rx alerts, prompt test results; easy to list diagnosis; medications, patients due for care. v Vision 2015 - Advancing Canada's Next Generation of Healthcare, Canada Health Infoway, 2008
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Transforming Health Care, Securing Canada's Competitive Advantage: The Canadian Medical Association's brief to the Standing Committee on Finance's pre-budget consultation

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy9585
Date
2009-08-14
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2009-08-14
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Text
As signs of economic recovery begin to emerge, both in Canada and globally, the Canadian Medical Association is pleased to put forward three recommendations that will initiate a needed transformation of our health care system so that it is truly patient focused and sustainable. Additionally, these measures will create 17,000 jobs and solidify Canada's health care competitive advantage. Although related to the health care sector, these recommendations are within the context of ensuring a prosperous, and sustainable economic, social and environmental future for Canada in the short, medium and long-term. Each of these three recommendations also takes into account the finance committee's questions: 1. What federal tax and program spending measures are needed to ensure prosperity and a sustainable future for Canadians from an economic, social and/or environmental perspective? 2. What federal stimulus measures have been effective and how might relatively ineffective measures be changed to ensure that they have the intended effects? CMA research demonstrates that it is possible to maintain a universally accessible health care system without long waits for care. In 2007 alone, waiting for care in just four clinical areas cost the Canadian economy $14.8 billion. In particular, two areas require federal attention: 1. ENHANCING PATIENT ACCESS ACROSS THE CONTINUUM OF CARE Continuing care (ie. long-term care and home care) and prescription drug coverage need urgent attention. Many Canadians do not have access to as wide a range of insured care as citizens in other highly industrialized countries. Recommendation 1: The federal government should expand the Building Canada Plan to include 'shovel-ready' health facility construction projects including ambulatory, acute and continuing care facilities. Cost: $1.5 billion over 2 years 2. HELPING PROVIDERS HELP PATIENTS a. Accelerating physician EMR adoption: Both national and international studies confirm that Canada lags behind nearly every major industrialized country when it comes to health information technology. Accelerating physician EMR adoption will reduce wait times, improve quality, and improve financial accountability especially of federal dollars. Budget 2009 proposed $500 million in additional funding to Canada Health Infoway and a temporary, accelerated capital cost allowance for computer hardware. Transfer of these funds to Infoway is imperative. Together, transferring the funding to Infoway and further improving of the capital cost allowance will ensure these initiatives have the intended effects of improving EMR adoption and stimulating the economy. b. Boosting Health Human Resources: Canada does not have enough physicians, nurses, technicians or other health care professionals to provide the care patients need. Addressing HHR shortages is critical to ensuring sustainable, accessible, responsive and high-quality health care. Recommendation 2: The federal government should expand the 2-year time-limited accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for hardware costs related to health information technologies by extending it to five years; removing the 50% half-year rule on related software; and including electronic tools involved in connecting patient records from physician offices to laboratories and hospitals. Cost: $50 million over four years. Recommendation 3: The federal government should fulfill its 2008 election promise, beginning in 2010, of investing $65 million in health human resources over four years to fund 50 new residencies per year; repatriate Canadian physicians living abroad; and launch pilot projects with nursing organizations to promote recruitment and retention. 1. INTRODUCTION - HEALTHY ECONOMICS: THE FOUNDATION OF FUTURE PROSPERITY The CMA believes that by being innovative in its actions Canada can sustain a publicly funded, universal health care system. In fact, doing so provides Canadian industry with a significant competitive advantage in the global marketplace. Despite having one of the richest health care programs in the industrialized world (eighth among 28 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] countries), international benchmarking studies consistently report that the Canadian program is not performing as well as it should. The Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index ranked Canada 30th out of 30 countries in terms of value for money spent on health care in both 2008 and 2009.The CMA's recent review of several European health systems illustrates that a sustainable, patient-centred approach to health care is possible on a system-wide level without compromising founding principles such as universality, and without causing financial difficulty for the country or its citizens. However, getting there will require transformational change to refocus our system. The Canadian Medical Association's 2010 pre-budget submission puts forward three recommendations in the areas of health care infrastructure, health human resources (HHR) and electronic medical records (EMRs).1 These three affordable, strategic initiatives fall within the jurisdiction of the federal government and recognize both the ongoing and promising economic recovery and the current fiscal capacity of the federal government. CMA's recommendations help to chart a course toward a prosperous, and sustainable economic, social and environmental future for Canada in the short, medium and long terms. These proposals will kickstart a transformation of the health care system and create over 17,000 jobs that will ensure a competitive economic foundation for the future. Based on CMA's research, transforming Canada's health care system to better meet the needs of Canadians hinges on five directions for a reorientation of the system: 1. Building a culture of patient-centred care; 2. Incentives for enhancing access and improving quality of care; 3. Enhancing patient access across the continuum of care; 4. Helping providers help patients; 5. Building accountability/responsibility at all levels. While each of the five directions is important to reorienting the system, points 3 and 4 are directly relevant to the Finance Committee's deliberations. 2. ENHANCING PATIENT ACCESS ACROSS THE CONTINUUM OF CARE While all elements of the continuum of care are important, the CMA believes that continuing care (long-term care and home care) and prescription drug coverage need urgent attention. Many Canadians do not have access to as wide a range of insured care as citizens in other highly industrialized countries. In fact, many of these other industrialized countries count access to prescription drugs and home care/long-term care among their basic insured services. a. Continuing care: Augmenting the Building Canada Plan to include health care infrastructure Recommendation 1: The federal government should expand the Building Canadai Plan to include 'shovel-ready' health facility construction projects including ambulatory, acute and continuing care facilities. Cost: $1.5 billion over two years Continuing care in Canada faces three key challenges: capacity and access; informal caregiver support and long-term care funding. At 91%, Canada has the highest hospital occupancy rate in the OECD.ii Roughly 25-30% of hospital acute care beds are occupied by patients who do not require hospital or medical care but rather need 24-hour supervised care. Scarce long-term care facilities and home-care services dictate that patients remain in hospital, delaying hospitals from performing elective surgeries and restricting the movement of other patients from the emergency room to acute care wards. Much of the burden of continuing care falls on informal (unpaid) caregivers who need to be better supported. Statistics Canada reported that in 2007 about 2.7 million Canadians aged 45 and over, or approximately one-fifth of the total in this age group, provided some form of unpaid care to seniors (people 65 years of age or older) who had long-term health problems iiiIt seems unlikely that future requirements for long-term care can be funded on the same "pay-as-you-go" basis as other health expenditures. The seven-year, $33-billion Building Canada Plan announced in Budget 2007 and augmented in Budget 2009, could better support a smart economic recovery and the health needs of Canadians if it were to be expanded to include health facility construction.iv Federal investment in hospital and health facility construction will create 16,500 jobs over a two-year period and 11,000 jobs in 2010 alone. (Appendix: Table 1). Although CMA's $1.5 billion recommendation does not eliminate the entire health-facility infrastructure gap in Canada, estimated at over $20 billionv, it does provide additional stimulus aimed at shovel-ready projects. It also better prepares our health system to deal with the needs of an aging population. Federal government investment in health infrastructure has two important precedents - the first in 1948 (Hospital Construction Grants Program) and the second in 1966 (Health Resources Fund Act). Infrastructure funding should be directed toward projects that deliver long-term value and enhance Canadians' lives. b. Prescription drugs: 3.5 million Canadians underinsured Prescription drugs represent the fastest growing item in the health budget, and the second largest category of health expenditure. More than 3.5 million Canadians have no prescription drug coverage or are underinsured against high prescription drug costs. In 2006 almost one in 10 (8%) of Canadian households spent more than 3% of their after-tax income on prescription drugs; and almost one in 25 (3.8%) spent more than 5%. It is estimated that less than one-half of prescription drug costs were publicly paid for in 2008. Canada must strive for a program of comprehensive pharmaceutical coverage that is universal and effectively pools risks across individuals and public and private plans throughout Canada. 3. HELPING PROVIDERS HELP PATIENTS Canada's health care workforce needs more people and more tools to care for Canadians. a. Accelerating physician EMR adoption Recommendation 2: The federal government should expand the 2-year, time-limited accelerated Capital Cost Allowance for hardware costs related to health information technologies by extending it to 5-years; removing the 50% half-year rule on related software; and including electronic tools involved in connecting patient records from physician offices to laboratories and hospitals. Cost: $50 million over four years. Both national and international studies confirm that Canada lags behind nearly every major industrialized country when it comes to health information technology (see Figure 1 and Figure 22). The impact of this underinvestment is longer wait times, reduced quality, and a severe lack of financial accountability, especially of federal dollars. The Conference Board of Canadavi, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) vii, the World Health Organizationviii, the Commonwealth Fundix, and the Frontier Centre for Public Policyx all rate Canada's health care system poorly in terms of "value for money" as well as efficiency. The CMA applauds the temporary 100% Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) rate for computer hardware and systems software acquired after January 27, 2009 and before February 1, 2011 that was proposed in Budget 2009. The measure will provide stimulus by helping businesses to increase or accelerate investment in computers. It will also help boost Canada's productivity through the faster adoption of newer technology. However, for this initiative to provide the greatest benefit, the 100% CCA rate should be extended to five years and expanded to include related EMR software. The benefits of EMR investments are clear. International strategy and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton found the benefits of an interconnected Electronic Health Record (EHR) in Canada could save the health system $6.1 billionxi a year. The CMA's recommendation of delivering incentives through the tax system to adopt EMRs is a bottom-up approach that has gained widespread support. John Halamka, the chief information officer at Harvard Medical School, thinks that reformers need to take a bottom-up approach and listen to both doctors and patients. Studies showxiithat most of the benefits of EMRs flow to the payer. Incentives for hardware, software and as importantly the time that it takes to implement these e-systems must be taken into account and incented. The urgency for e-health is being recognized in the United States and needs to be in Canada. Beyond tax incentives, Budget 2009 also provided Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) with $500 million to support the goal of having 50 % of Canadians with an electronic health record by 2010. As of March 31, 2009, Infoway and its partners had put in place an electronic health record for 17% of the population. Budget 2009 funding will allow Infoway to extend EHRs to 38% of the population by March 31, 2010. xiii This investment will not only enhance the safety, quality and efficiency of the health care system, but will also result in a significant positive contribution to Canada's economy, including the creation of thousands of sustainable, knowledge-based jobs throughout Canadaxiv. Infoway has not yet received this funding and the CMA strongly encourages the federal government to transfer the funds promised in Budget 2009 as soon as possible. b. Boosting Health Human Resources Recommendation 3: The federal government should fulfill its 2008 election promisexv, beginning in 2010, of investing $65 million in health human resources over four years to fund 50 new residencies per year; repatriate Canadian physicians living abroad; and launch pilot projects with nursing organizations to promote recruitment and retention. Canada does not have enough physicians, nurses, technicians or other health care professionals to provide the care patients need. Addressing health workforce shortages is critical to ensuring sustainable, accessible, responsive and high-quality health care across the nation. Canada has suffered from a significant physician shortage since the mid-1990s. Nationally, we rank 26th of 30 OECD member countries in physician-to-population ratio (see Figure 3). The lack of physicians in Canada puts the system under pressure and the impact of this is being felt by patients across the country. Currently, approximately five million Canadians do not have a family physician. In 2008, a study commissioned by the CMA found that the Canadian economy lost $14.8 billion as a result of excessive wait times for just four procedures: joint replacements, MRIs, coronary artery bypass surgery and cataract surgery. As health care reform plans evolve south of our border, Canada should be proactive in order to retain the health professionals we have educated and trained and make it easier for those who have emigrated to return to practice in Canada. In the 2008 federal election, most parties recognized the urgency of HHR shortages and committed to address the situation. The Conservative Party committed to fund additional medical residency positions, create a repatriation fund for Canadian physicians practising abroad and fund nursing recruitment and retention pilot projects. It is thought this repatriation program could bring back as many as 300 Canadian physicians over four years. The federal government should keep this important commitment. Migration to the United States peaked in the late 1990s when Canada lost between 600 and 700 physicians per year. While some physicians returned to Canada each year, our net losses for this period were over 400 per year. Today we are enjoying small net annual gains but this may not last. With predicted shortages in the U.S. of between 80,000 and 100,000 physicians in the years ahead, we can expect U.S. recruiters to ramp up activities in Canada soon. 4. CONCLUSION The emerging economic recovery offers an excellent opportunity for the federal government to create a more patient-focused and sustainable health care system. Enhancing patient access across the continuum of care by bolstering the Building Canada infrastructure plan and helping providers help patients by enhancing EMR tax incentives and addressing health workforce shortages are important first steps in transforming our health care system. Looking ahead, it will be important to continue to honour the financial transfers of the 2004 Health Care Accord, including the annual 6% escalator, through to 2014. Past cuts to health care funding at all levels have had significant negative effects that continue to be felt to this day. Now is the time to begin thinking ahead to the fiscal needs of the health care system in the post-2014 era. Appendix Table 1 [For correct dispaly of table information, see PDF] References 1 A full schedule of the recommended federal investments as well as their job creation potential is included at the end of the document in the Appendix, Table 1. 2 14 functions are: EMR, EMR access, access other doctors, outside office, patient: routine use, electronic ordering tests, prescriptions, access test results, access hospital records, computer for reminders, Rx alerts, prompt test results; easy to list diagnosis, medications, patients due for care. i Building Canada Plan., Announced in Budget 2007, the seven-year, $33-billion Building Canada plan consists of a suite of programs to meet the varying needs of infrastructure projects across Canada. See page 142 of the 2009 Federal Budget. www.budget.gc.ca/2009/pdf/budget-planbugetaire-eng.pdf ii Hospital Occupancy Rates. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] (2008). OECD Health. Data 2007. Version 07/18/2007. CD-ROM. Paris: OECD. iii.Cranswick, Kelly, Donna Dosman. "Eldercare: What we Know Today" Canadian Social Trends.No. 86. Statistics Canada iv Building Canada Plan, Federal Budget 2009 page 142. . www.budget.gc.ca/2009/pdf/budget-planbugetaire-eng.pdf v This estimate is based on survey work in a forthcoming publication commissioned by the Association of Canadian Academic Healthcare Organizations. vi How Canada Performs 2008: A Report Card on Canada, The Conference Board of Canada see: http://sso.conferenceboard.ca/HCP/overview/health-overview.aspx vii Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] (2007). OECD Health Data 2007. Version 07/18/2007. CD-ROM. Paris: OECD. viii World Health Organization [WHO] (2007). World Health Statistics 2007. see: http://www.who. ix Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: An International Update on the Comparative Performance of American Health Care May 15, 2007 (updated May 16, 2007)
Volume 59 Authors: Karen Davis, Ph.D., Cathy Schoen, M.S., Stephen C. Schoenbaum, M.D., M.P.H., Michelle M. Doty, Ph.D., M.P.H., Alyssa L. Holmgren, M.P.A., Jennifer L. Kriss, and Katherine K. Shea Editor(s):Deborah Lorber see: www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/publications_show.htm?doc_id=482678 x Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index 2008, Health Consumer Powerhouse, Frontier Centre for Public Policy, FC Policy Series No. 38 see:www.fcpp.org/pdf/ECHCI2008finalJanuary202008.pdf xi Booz, Allan, Hamilton Study, Pan-Canadian Electronic Health Record, Canada's Health Infoway's 10-Year Investment Strategy, March 2005-09-06. xii Although the savings would accrue to different stakeholders, in the long run they should accrue to payers. If we allocate the savings using the current level of spending from the National Health Accounts (kept by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), Medicare would receive about $23 billion of the potential savings per year, and private payers would receive $31 billion per year. Thus, both have a strong incentive to encourage the adoption of EMR systems. Providers face limited incentives to purchase EMRs because their investment typically translates into revenue losses for them and health care spending savings for payers. From: Can Electronic Medical Record Systems Transform Health Care? Potential Health Benefits, Savings, And Costs, by Richard Hillestad, James Bigelow, Anthony Bower, Federico Girosi, Robin Meili, Richard Scoville and Roger Taylor, Health Affairs, 24, no. 5 (2005): 1103-1117 http://content.healthaffairs.org/cgi/content/full/24/5/1103#R14 xiii Corporate Business Plan 2009/2010, Canada Health Infoway, "Anticipated Progress to March 31, 2010" page 7 see:www2.infoway-inforoute.ca/Documents/bp/Business_Plan_2009-2010_en.pdf xiv Federal Budget 2009 page 152. see: www.budget.gc.ca/2009/pdf/budget-planbugetaire-eng.pdf xv Health Care Certainty for Canadian Families, the Conservative Party of Canada, backgrounder 10/08/08. See: http://www.conservative.ca/?section_id=1091&section_copy_id=107023&language_id=0
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Notes for an address by Dr. Eugene Bereza, Chair, Committee on Ethics, Canadian Medical Association : Bill C-13 - An act respecting assisted human reproduction : Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1963
Last Reviewed
2010-02-27
Date
2002-11-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2010-02-27
Date
2002-11-20
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
BILL C-13 - AN ACT RESPECTING ASSISTED HUMAN REPRODUCTION Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health Ottawa, Ontario November 20, 2002 BILL C-13 - AN ACT RESPECTING ASSISTED HUMAN REPRODUCTION Madame Chair and Members of the Committee: My name is Dr. Eugene Bereza. I am a physician and clinical ethicist at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal and Chair of the Canadian Medical Association Committee on Ethics. I am here today representing our members, more than 54,000 physicians from across Canada. I also wish to speak as a advocate for our patients, especially those affected by infertility and those who are or will suffer from diseases for which medical science is searching for cures. I am accompanied today by Dr. John Williams, our Director of Ethics. You will recall that we appeared before this Committee on October 23, 2001 in company with representatives from eight other national health provider and scientific organizations to present our views on draft legislation on assisted human reproduction. Although we were pleased that your December 2001 report recommended the establishment of an assisted reproduction regulatory body outside the Department of Health, we were disappointed that you did not find favour with other recommendations we put forward. The government responded to your report with Bill C-56, now Bill C-13. It is this bill that we are here to address today. Although there are many details in the bill on which we would like either clarification or changes, we intend to focus our remarks on the issue that we consider of greatest importance for our patient’s wellfare and the practice of medicine. That issue is the use of the criminal power to deal with medical and scientific activities. The Standing Committee Report and Bill C-13 In your December 2001 report, you acknowledged our position on this issue: “Some witnesses recommended the elimination of the prohibited activities category altogether. Citing the benefits of regulatory flexibility, they felt that all activities should come under the controlled activity category, including the more reprehensible activities like reproductive cloning for which licences, arguably, would never be allowed under the regulations” (page 9). However, you rejected this view on the grounds that “a licence-related prohibition of this sort would not carry the same weight or degree of social censure as the statutory prohibition…. An outright statutory ban signals more clearly that certain activities are either unsafe or socially unacceptable. The use of the statutory ban also signals that these activities are of such concern to Canadians that their status as a prohibited activity may not be altered except with the approval of Parliament” (page 9). Bill C-13 reflects your views on this matter. We recognize your good faith in proposing and defending this position but we are convinced that its potential for harm outweighs its potential benefits. And so we are pleased to have this opportunity to reiterate the reason why the CMA believes that Bill C-13 will adversely affect the patient-physician relationship and the advance of medical science. Need to Change Bill C-13 As you know, our position on this matter is supported by legal scholars such as Patrick Healy, McGill University Faculty of Law, Tim Caulfield, Director of the University of Alberta Health Law Institute, and Bartha Knoppers, Université de Montréal Centre de Recherche en Droit Publique. In essence, our position is that the criminal law is a blunt instrument and very difficult to change and is therefore appropriate for activities whose status is unlikely to change over time, such as murder and theft, rather than medical and scientific activities that are constantly developing. The latter are better left to a representative regulatory body to determine if and when changes in health and safety considerations and public attitudes and values might justify allowing certain formerly prohibited activities to take place under specific conditions. Bill C-13 begins with the statement: “This enactment prohibits assisted reproduction procedures that are considered to be ethically unacceptable.” This echoes the conclusions in your report. However, as the transcripts of your hearings demonstrate, many Canadians, especially those who are infertile, do not consider some or all of these procedures to be ethically unacceptable. As a matter of public policy, should Canadians who hold this view be denied access to medical treatment for infertility because others consider such treatments to be ethically unacceptable? Should patients who suffer from conditions for which research that is forbidden in Bill C-13 might lead to a cure be denied that opportunity? We question whether criminal prohibitions are appropriate for dealing with activities on which there is considerable ethical disagreement among Canadians. In Canada legislators have been justifiably reluctant to use the criminal law to deal with medical and scientific issues such as abortion, withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and the conduct of medical research. Why is an exception being made for assisted reproduction? What sort of precedent will this set for other controversial bioethical issues? We are also concerned about the bill’s penalties for infractions: jail terms up to 10 years and fines up to $500,000. These are disproportionate to the penalties for crimes that injure persons or property and, as such, will create a climate of undue fear and excessive caution for physicians and scientists working in this area, such that they will avoid any activity that is potentially covered by the bill, even to the detriment of patient care. Given the rapid advance of science and medical practice and the difficulty of anticipating new developments, it will be difficult to adjust the law to deal with new applications of prohibited activities that may be ethically acceptable. An Alternate Solution The CMA has stated repeatedly that we are not opposed to the prohibition of certain assisted human reproduction activities. Instead of instituting criminal prohibitions within the legislation, we remain convinced that an independent body on an ongoing basis should determine the activities that are permissible or prohibited on the basis of up-to-date scientific research, public input and ethical review. This can be accomplished very easily in Bill C-13 by moving the procedures listed under “Prohibited Activities” (sections 5-9) to “Controlled Activities” and adding the words “except in accordance with the regulations and a licence” to each of the provisions in sections 5-9. Consistent with this recommendation we consider that the regulatory agency should be established as soon as possible and be given as much authority as possible over the matters that Bill C-13, section 65, reserves to regulations of Governor in Council. We hope that the agency will build upon the experience and expertise of existing organizations and structures in the field of assisted reproduction that deal with practice standards, education, certification and accreditation. Conclusion To summarize, we strongly support government efforts to regulate assisted human reproduction and related activities, including the prohibition of certain practices either temporarily or permanently. However, like others who have appeared before this Committee, we do not believe that criminalizing the medical and scientific activities named in the bill is an appropriate way to achieve those objectives. We consider that the objectives could be as well achieved by far less drastic means than criminalization and, moreover, that criminalization would create major obstacles to legitimate medical and scientific progress in the treatment of infertility. We recommend that the proposed agency be empowered to regulate these practices and that the criminal power be invoked when controlled activities are performed without authority of a licence from the agency or in defiance of the licensing conditions established by the agency. Thank you, Madame Chair and members of the Committee. We will be pleased to respond to your questions.
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Presentation to The Standing Committee on the Status of Women

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10020
Date
2010-04-19
Topics
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2010-04-19
Topics
Health human resources
Text
Good afternoon. As was said in my introduction, my name is Anne Doig and like the chair, I am a family physician. I practice as a "full service" family physician, which means that I provide care in hospital as well as in my office, including obstetrical services. I have practiced in Saskatoon for almost 32 years. It is my pleasure to be here today. As President of the Canadian Medical Association, I represent all physicians, but today, I am proud to represent women participating in what is now a traditional occupation for them, that is, medicine. Joining me today is Dr. Mamta Gautam, a specialist and champion of physician health and well-being. For 20 years, she worked as a psychiatrist treating physicians exclusively in her private practice in Ottawa, and has been hailed as "the Doctor's Doctor." The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has reported full-time university enrolment increased by more than 190,000, or 31%, between 2000 and 2006 and now stands at record levels. Full-time male enrolment has passed 350,000 students and full-time female enrolment has passed 460,000. Women account for two-thirds of full-time enrolment growth since 1971, a surge driven by the rapid increase in women's participation in the professions, including medicine. As it stands now, the males outnumber females among practicing physicians by 67%-33%. While there are still more men than women in practice, the percentage of female first-year residents in 2008 was 57%. This is a reversal of the percentage when I graduated, and an increase from 44% fifteen years ago. This means that a significant majority of physicians close to the beginning of their medical careers, are women. Not surprisingly, given those figures, there are many medical disciplines where the proportion of females is much higher than it was even just a few years ago. For instance, in general surgery - long held to be a bastion of male physicians - females comprised 18% of the 1993 first year residents compared to 40% in 2008. Just over half of first-year family medicine residents in 1993 were female compared to 64% today. However, women medical graduates still tend to choose to pursue residency training in family medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology in greater proportions than their male counterparts. As has always been the case, males continue to have a stronger preference for surgery - 23% compared to 11% of females - although that gap is narrowing. So, the overall numbers of women physicians are increasing as are the percentages of those going into what one might call non-traditional specialties, albeit at a slower rate. The so-called feminization of medicine brings with it several other issues and I will touch on two major ones. First, work-life balance. The rise in the number of women physicians is bringing a positive shift in the way physicians practice and the hours that they keep. Very few of today's young physicians - male or female - are willing to work the long hours that physicians of previous generations did. That said, data from the 2007 National Physician Survey, which included responses from over 18,000 physicians across the country, show that, on average, male doctors still work nearly 54 hours per week, while female doctors work 48 - although many work more than that. These figures do not include time on call, nor time spent on child care or other family responsibilities. Many members of the Committee can empathize with this level of commitment. In contrast, the European Union Work Time Directive has said that the maximum work week must be 48 hours. If Canada were to try to apply that directive to physicians our health care system would grind to a halt. The number of physicians opting to be paid by a means other than pure fee-for-service has dramatically increased. FFS rewards the doctor financially for seeing more patients. Female physicians typically spend more time in each patient encounter, a trait that is valued by patients but not rewarded by FFS remuneration. The second issue is stress. In spite of their increasing numbers, women in medicine still report higher rates of incidents of intimidation, sexual harassment and abuse than their male colleagues. As well, many female physicians continue to assume primary responsibility for home and family commitments in addition to their practice workload, thus compounding their stress levels. Female physicians are more likely to work flexible hours; flexibility in work schedules has been the method by which female physicians balance their professional and personal lives. Yet, as they take on more and strive to be more flexible that in itself creates more stress as they battle to be "all things to all people". The CMA identified the need to address and mitigate the unique demands on women physicians in its 1998 policy on Physician Health and Well-Being. I have brought copies to be shared with you today. As I mentioned at the start, I am joined today by Dr. Gautam who has considerable expertise in the stressors faced by physicians - and women physicians in particular - and in managing them. We will be happy to discuss the participation of women in medicine and to answer questions that you may have. Thank you.
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CMA's Presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance: Pre-budget Consultations 2010-2011

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy10018
Date
2010-10-27
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Date
2010-10-27
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Health human resources
Text
The CMA brief contains seven recommendations to address pressing needs in the health care system. Before I get to those, I'd like to highlight why, from my perspective, our health care system is in need of the federal government's attention. Yesterday, at the Ottawa Hospital, where I am Chief of Staff: * Our occupancy was 100 per cent. * 30 patients who came to the emergency department were admitted to the hospital, but we had beds for only four of them. * 10 are still waiting on gurneys in examining rooms within the emergency department. * Six patients were admitted to wards and are receiving care in hallways. * Three surgeries were cancelled - bringing the number of cancellations this year to 480. * But while all this was happening, we had 158 patients waiting for a bed in a long-term-care facility. Equally, a few blocks from here and in communities across the country, the health status of our poorest and most vulnerable populations is comparable to countries that have a fraction of our GDP - despite very significant investments in their health. This is just my perspective. Health care providers of all types experience the failings of our system on a daily basis. We as a country can do better and Canadians deserve better value for their money. Canada's physicians are calling for transformative change to build a health care system based on the principles of accessibility, high quality, cost effectiveness, accountability and sustainability. Through new efficiencies, better integration and sound stewardship, governments can reposition health care as an economic driver, an agent of productivity and a competitive advantage for Canada in today's global marketplace. The Health Accord expires in March 2014, and we strongly urge that the federal government begin discussions now with the provinces and territories on how to transform our health care system so that it meets patients' needs and is sustainable into the future. Canadians themselves also need to be part of the conversation. To help position the system for this transformative change, the CMA brief identifies a number of issues that the federal government should address in the short term: First, our system needs investments in health human resources to retain and recruit more doctors and nurses. Although we welcome measures in the last budget to increase the number of residency positions, we urge the government to fulfill the balance of its election promise by further investing in residencies, and to invest in programs to repatriate Canadian-trained physicians living abroad. Second, we need to bolster our public health e-infrastructure so that it can provide efficient, quality care that responds more effectively to pandemics. We recommend increased investment: * to improve data collection and analysis between local public health authorities and primary care practices, * for local health emergency preparedness, and * for the creation of a pan-Canadian strategy for responding to potential health crises. Third, issues related to our aging population also call for action. As continuing care moves from hospitals into the home, the community, or long-term care facilities, the financial burden shifts from governments to individuals. We recommend that the federal government study options for pre-funding long-term care - including private insurance, tax-deferred and tax-prepaid savings approaches, and contribution-based social insurance - to help Canadians prepare for their future home care and long-term care needs. And, as much of the burden of continuing care for seniors also falls on informal, unpaid caregivers, the CMA recommends that pilot studies be undertaken to explore tax credit and/or direct compensation for informal caregivers for their work, and to expand programs for informal caregivers that provide guaranteed access to respite services in emergency situations. Finally, the government should increase RRSP limits and explore opportunities to provide pension vehicles for self-employed Canadians. Mr. Chair, a fuller set of recommendations is contained in our report -- Health Care Transformation in Canada: Change that Works. Care that Lasts. These include universal access to prescription drugs; greater use of health information technology; and the immediate construction of long-term care facilities. We urge the Committee to consider both our short-term recommendations - and our longer term vision for transforming Canada's health care system. I look forward to your questions. Thank you.
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Child pornography

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy490
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
1984-03-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD84-04-74
The Canadian Medical Association recognizes child pornography as a form of sexual abuse.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
1984-03-24
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD84-04-74
The Canadian Medical Association recognizes child pornography as a form of sexual abuse.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association recognizes child pornography as a form of sexual abuse.
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Notes for an address by Dr. Eugene Bereza, Chair, Committee on Ethics, Canadian Medical Association : Bill C-6 (An act respecting assisted human reproduction) : Presentation to the Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy2007
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2004-02-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2004-02-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
My name is Dr. Eugene Bereza. I am a physician and clinical ethicist at McGill University Health Centre in Montreal and Chair of the Canadian Medical Association’s Committee on Ethics. I am accompanied today by Dr. Jeff Blackmer, our Director of Ethics. I am here today representing the CMA, but I would also like to advocate on behalf of those patients affected by infertility and those patients suffering, or who will suffer, from the myriad diseases for which medical science is searching out a cure. While there has been considerable debate over the past decade on the moral and ethical issues associated with assisted human reproduction, discussion of this as a health issue has been overlooked all to often. We must remember this is about the practice of medicine and above all, the health of Canadians. My remarks today will focus on the inappropriateness of using criminal sanctions to deal with medical and scientific activities. The Issue It is important to make it clear at the outset that the CMA does not oppose the prohibition of certain medical and scientific activities. Others here today are in a better position to address concerns regarding the specific prohibitions proposed under Bill C-6. Our issue is the means chosen to give effect to these prohibitions and their potential impact on the ability of a physician to ensure the welfare of his or her patients. Criminal law is a blunt instrument. As parliamentarians, you know how difficult it can be to change the law. For some activities prohibited under the criminal law, such as murder and theft, change is not an issue. However, the science of medicine evolves constantly, doubling every 18-24 months. Advances in science and medical practice, coupled with the difficulty of anticipating new developments, make it difficult to adjust the law to remove criminal prohibitions as science and society changes. In the context of prohibiting medical and scientific activities, it is the CMA’s position that the use of criminal law is inappropriate, as it would ultimately not serve our patient’s best interests. Prohibitions, specifically those listed as prohibited activities under Bill C-6, (formerly Bill C-13) could be secured through much less drastic means than criminalization. The CMA proposes that the determination of permissible activities, temporarily or for the longer-term, should be made by the proposed Regulatory Agency working with up-to-date scientific information while providing for public input and ethical review. The Regulatory Agency, as proposed in the Bill, would determine if and when changes in health and safety considerations, public attitudes and values might justify allowing certain formerly prohibited activities to take place under specific conditions. Questions to Consider Bill C-6 begins with the statement: “This enactment prohibits assisted reproduction procedures that are considered to be ethically unacceptable.” However, many Canadians, especially those who are infertile, do not consider some or all of these procedures to be ethically unacceptable nor do the many physicians charged with their care. The CMA questions whether criminal prohibitions are appropriate for dealing with activities about which there is considerable ethical disagreement among Canadians. Legislators in Canada have been justifiably reluctant to use criminal law to deal with medical and scientific issues such as abortion, withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment and the conduct of medical research. Why is an exception being made for assisted reproduction? What sort of precedent will this set for other controversial bioethical issues? What about the chilling effect criminalization will have on research in this important area? For the CMA, the most important question is: what about the patients? What about patients suffering from conditions for which research is banned but may lead to a cure? Should they be denied the opportunity to benefit from this research? Just as Bill C-6 unfairly targets patients, so too does the Bill’s penalties for infractions. Jail terms of up to 10 years and fines up to $500,000 will create a climate of fear and excessive caution for physicians and scientists working in this area. The chill created by these penalties will be such that scientists may well avoid any activity potentially covered by the bill even to the detriment of patient care. The CMA recognizes the good faith among parliamentarians in proposing statutory bans to prohibit certain activities. However, we are convinced in this case the potential for harm outweighs the potential benefits. There is a better way to prohibit these activities while still facilitating important research and necessary treatments. An Alternative Solution Instead of instituting criminal prohibitions within the legislation, the CMA suggest the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada manage procedures deemed permissible by moving the procedures listed under “Prohibited Activities” to “Controlled Activities.” We recommend that criminal sanctions apply to breaches of agency directives such as performing activities prohibited by the agency and performing controlled activities without a license. Such an approach would have the dual advantage of being able to both prohibit activities deemed unethical while still providing the flexibility to ensure legitimate medical and scientific progress in the treatment of infertility. The regulatory agency should be established as soon as possible and should build on the experience and expertise of existing assisted reproduction organizations and structures that deal with practice standards, education, certification and accreditation. Conclusion The CMA’s overriding concern in addressing this legislation is the well-being of patients, in this case patients who are infertile and patients afflicted by conditions for which medical research offers significant promise of treatment. We support government efforts to regulate assisted human reproduction and related activities, including the prohibition of certain practices temporarily or permanently where necessary. However, we do not believe that criminalization of medical and scientific activities named in the bill is an appropriate way to achieve those objectives. We believe we have advanced a workable alternative within the spirit of the Bill. Thank you.
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Notes for an address by Sunil V. Patel, MB, ChB, President, Canadian Medical Association : Presentation to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House of Commons

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy2009
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2004-04-19
Topics
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2004-04-19
Topics
Health human resources
Text
Good afternoon, as mentioned, I am Dr. Sunil Patel, President of the Canadian Medical Association and a family physician from Gimli Manitoba. With me today, is Mr. William Tholl, Secretary General and CEO of the CMA. I am pleased to be here with you today and as a foreign trained physician I believe that I can provide a personal perspective to your study of credentialing of international graduates in the medical profession. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA’s mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care. The CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing the majority of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial divisions and 43 affiliated medical organizations. On behalf of its more than 57,000 members and the Canadian public, CMA performs a wide variety of functions, such as advocating for improved access to quality health care, facilitating change within the medical profession, and providing leadership and guidance to physicians to help them influence, manage and adapt to changes in health care delivery. I will preface my remarks by emphasizing that in the case of medicine, the recognition of the credentials of internationally trained physicians is only one part of a much larger issue – namely that of Canada’s continued inability to be self-sufficient in the production of physicians to meet the needs of our population. While we recognize the important contribution that International Medical Graduates (IMGs) have made, and continue to make to the health care system, we believe that Canada’s physician workforce policy must not continue to be one of “beggar thy neighbour”. I want to impress upon Members of the Committee that the CMA does not test, license or discipline physicians, nor is it empowered to act on complaints made by patients — this is the purview of the provincial/territorial licensing bodies. We are not directly involved in provincial or territorial benefit negotiations for physicians – this is the responsibility of our provincial/territorial Divisions. Nor do we control medical school enrolment or conduct medical research. What we do, is carry out research and advocacy on short, medium and long term health and health care issues to ensure we can meet the current and emergent needs of Canadians. The CMA was pleased to participate as a member of the Canadian Task Force on the Licensure of International Medical Graduates, and we congratulate Drs. Dale Dauphinee and Rodney Crutcher for their tireless work in co-chairing it. I understand that Dr. Dauphinee tabled with this Committee the Task Force’s recent report. As a matter of principle, the CMA supports the international exchange of teaching, research and practice that the mobility of physicians can provide for the betterment of medical practice, both in Canada and internationally. The Canadian health system has benefited tremendously from the contribution of IMGs and we expect it will continue to do so into the future. Canada has always relied on IMGs as a significant part of its medical workforce. Even after the addition of four new medical schools in the 1960s, it remains the case to this day that almost one of four practising physicians in Canada is an IMG. Although precise data are not available, our best guess is that some 300-400 IMGs new to Canada are licensed to practise each year. Boom to Bust Canada’s health workforce planning can aptly be described as a “boom to bust” cycle. In the case of physicians, the number of IMGs arriving in Canada exceeded 1,000 annually in the early 1970s and then diminished with the rising concern about health care costs in the 1980s and the fiscal crunch of the 1990s. In 1992 health Ministers unilaterally imposed a 10% cut in undergraduate medical school enrolment that took effect in 1993. This cut has contributed to smaller entry-to-practice cohorts over the past few years and we now face the prospect of a growing physician shortage – a prospect shared by most industrialized countries. Moreover, as is demonstrated in the attached chart, Canada continues to experience the net loss of some 200 physicians each year, mainly to the United States. In the past few years Canada has been criticized internationally for “poaching” physicians from countries that can ill afford to lose them, although this is no longer the result of systematic recruitment. We must recognize that Canada is still an attractive destination for many prospective migrants of all occupations. The CMA played a leadership role in working with the World Medical Association to develop a policy statement on ethical guidelines for the international recruitment of physicians that was adopted by the WMA General Assembly in Helsinki in the Fall, 2003 (copy attached). Need for a National Planning Process One thing that distinguishes medicine from other professions, both within and outside the health field, is that according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, more than 98% of physician professional earnings are publicly-funded; in this regard Canada’s physicians are unique among industrialized countries. In an era that calls for greater accountability for public expenditure, this underscores the need for a nationally coordinated plan and planning process that strives to ensure that Canada has enough physicians to meet the needs of its population. Such a plan has eluded Canada thus far. Indeed Canada’s health workforce policy might be described as one of “beggar thy neighbour”, both within Canada – between provinces/territories and communities - and internationally. In terms of how IMGs might be factored into such a plan, the CMA would recommend short, medium and longer-term approaches. A critical first step in moving ahead on such a plan would be to convene a table along the lines of the recent IMG Task Force that would tackle the full breadth of workforce issues with representation from the national medical organizations and the provincial, federal and territorial governments. Short-Term At present, IMGs are able to access postgraduate medical (post-MD) training by successfully completing the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam (MCCEE) and than applying to the second iteration of the match conducted each year by the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) or by applying to one of the special programs for IMGs that are offered at some Canadian medical schools. In the short-term the CMA would recommend that the federal government provide sufficient funding to provide additional training positions for a number of the some 700+ IMGs who would be eligible to begin a post-MD residency training immediately. Such funding could also provide for the comprehensive assessments of IMGs that have been developed in several jurisdictions. The CMA also strongly supports the initiative of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) in developing a pilot for the off-shore electronic administration of the MCCEE. The March 1, 2004 announcement by Dr. Hedy Fry of $4 million in support of the Task Force recommendations is very welcome, but it is just a first installment on what is required. Medium-Term The CMA and other national medical organizations believe that the size of the postgraduate medical training system is a bottleneck, both for Canadian medical graduates and IMGs alike. The number of post-MD training positions funded by provincial governments has been flat-lined since the early 1990s, and is only barely sufficient for the graduating cohort, thus leaving virtually no room for either IMGs or for practising Canadian graduates wishing to retrain. Over the past few years the number of IMGs applying in the second iteration of the CaRMS match has more than doubled, rising from 294 in 2000 to the forecast 758 who will compete for the 177 positions in the 2nd round match on April 29th of this year. Among the 625 IMGs in the second round of the match in 2003 just under 11% (67) were matched. I would be remiss however in not acknowledging that several medical schools have special programs for IMGs. While 67 IMGs were matched to postgraduate year one (PGY-1) positions in 2003, according to the Canadian post-MD registry there were a total of 213 IMGs in PGY-1 as of November 2003. The CMA and other national medical organizations have been advocating for a minimum of 120 PGY-1 training positions for every 100 graduates. Action on this recommendation will become crucial in the next few years when the expanded undergraduate cohort (post-1999) graduates. More generally, we believe that the following components must be explicitly factored into the planning for the capacity of the post-MD training system: * all new graduates of Canadian medical schools who are permanent residents (including opportunities to switch training programs); * re-entry into postgraduate training among physicians in practice in Canada; * IMGs who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada; and * non-resident IMGs wishing to pursue postgraduate training in Canada as visa trainees. I would add that increased efforts and resources will be required to recruit additional community-based teachers to participate in both undergraduate medical education and post-MD training, and to support and retain those who are already doing so. As well, government funding for the infrastructure costs to medical schools as a result increased training will need to be forthcoming. Long-Term First, I am aware from reading the proceedings of earlier sessions that concerns have been raised about the multiplicity of licensing and credentialing standards among the provinces and territories. This is one area where I can think that medicine can be justifiably proud as, since 1992 there has been a national standard for portable eligibility for licensure – that is, successful completion of the two-part Qualifying Examination of the Medical Council of Canada plus certification either by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada or the Collège des Médecins du Québec. The regulatory authorities have flexibility in the application of this standard so that IMGs can receive provisional licensure to practise and ultimately attain full licensure. There are also a variety of means through which practising IMGs can achieve certification. This is something that the CMA strongly supports – that Canadians are served by a uniform standard for medical practice that applies both to Canadian medical graduates and IMGs alike. This national standard must continue to be the cornerstone of a long-term vision and plan for Canada’s physician workforce. In moving toward such a plan, the CMA believes Canada should adopt a policy of increased self-sufficiency in the production of physicians in Canada, that includes: * increased opportunities for Canadians to pursue medical education in Canada; * enhanced opportunities for practising physicians to return for additional training; * strategies to retain physicians in practice and in Canada; and * increased opportunities for IMGs who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada to access post-MD training leading to licensure/certification and the practice of medicine in Canada. The CMA believes that there are too few opportunities for Canadians to pursue medicine as a career in Canada. For example, in 2002 there were roughly 6.5 first year medical school places per 100,000 population – just over one-half of the comparable level of 12.2 per 100,000 for England. This shortfall is exacerbating the current situation by creating a new category of international graduates, namely the growing numbers of Canadians who are pursuing an international medical education as a result of the shortage of medical school places in Canada. The CMA has recommended a 2007 target of 2,500 first year medical positions. At best we are tracking toward 2,200 at present. Impact Assessment We would urge this committee to call on the government to conduct a detailed impact assessment of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. For example, at this point we have simply no idea if the numbers of qualified foreign workers arriving in Canada with medical credentials and without arranged employment agreements have increased or not, and we suspect that this may be true for other professionals and occupations. Conclusion In conclusion, as regards the medical profession, we believe it is crucial that the federal, provincial and territorial governments must make the high level policy commitment to a nationally coordinated plan for the physician workforce that I have outlined above. Such a commitment is long overdue. In the context of such a plan, in the short-term we believe that implementation of the recommendations of the Canadian Task Force on the Licensure of IMGs will contribute significantly and moreover will add a measure of transparency and fairness, particularly for those IMGs who are residents of Canada and who have not been able to access the post-MD system. For our part, the CMA is addressing Task Force recommendation 5b, which called for a recruitment database that will permit IMGs to post curricula vitae and employers to access this information. We have implemented a module on our national online career forum MedConnexions.ca that provides IMGs with electronic tools to create an online resume and to search and apply to medical and health-related employment opportunities. While we must increase our efforts to promote the integration of IMGs in the Canadian health care system it is imperative that this be done in the context of a national action plan to achieve a greater level of self-sufficiency than we have in the past. I look forward to your questions and I thank you for your attention.
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Carter: CMA submission regarding euthanasia and assisted death

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy13935
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2014-08-27
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
  1 document  
Policy Type
Court submission
Last Reviewed
2011-03-05
Date
2014-08-27
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Population health/ health equity/ public health
Text
S.C.C. No. 35591 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CANADA (ON APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEAL FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA) BETWEEN: LEE CARTER, HOLLIS JOHNSON, DR. WILLIAM SHOICHET, THE BRITISH COLUMBIA CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION and GLORIA TAYLOR Appellants - and - ATTORNEY GENERAL OF CANADA and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA Respondents -and- ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ONTARIO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF QUEBEC, ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WHO ARE SUPPORTIVE OF LEGAL ASSISTED DYING SOCIETY, ASSOCIATION FOR REFORMED POLITICAL ACTION CANADA, THE CANADIAN CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSOCIATION, THE CANADIAN HIV/AIDS LEGAL NETWORK AND THE HIV & AIDS LEGAL CLINIC ONTARIO, THE CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, THE CANADIAN UNITARIAN COUNCIL, THE CATHOLIC CIVIL RIGHTS LEAGUE, THE FAITH AND FREEDOM ALLIANCE AND THE PROTECTION OF CONSCIENCE PROJECT, THE CATHOLIC HEALTH ALLIANCE OF CANADA, THE CHRISTIAN LEGAL FELLOWSHIP, THE CHRISTIAN MEDICAL AND DENTAL SOCIETY OF CANADA, THE CANADIAN FEDERATION OF CATHOLIC PHYSICIANS' SOCIETIES, THE COLLECTIF DES MEDECINS CONTRE L'EUTHANASIE, THE COUNCIL OF CANADIANS WITH DISABILITIES AND THE CANADIAN SOCIETY FOR COMMUNITY LIVING, THE CRIMINAL LA WYERS' ASSOCIATION (ONTARIO), DYING WITH DIGNITY, THE EV ANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP OF CANADA, THE FAREWELL FOUNDATION FOR THE RIGHT TO DIE and THE ASSOCIATION QUEBECOISE POUR LE DROIT DE MOURIR DANS LA DIGNITE, and THE EUTHANASIA PREVENTION COALITION AND THE EUTHANASIA PREVENTION COALITION - BRITISH COLUMBIA FACTUM OF THE INTERVENER THE CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION Rules 37 and 42 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Canada Interveners POLLEY FAITH LLP The Victory Building 80 Richmond Street West Suite 1300 Toronto, Ontario M5H 2A4 Harry Underwood and Jessica Prince Tel: ( 416) 365-1600 Fax: (416) 365-1601 hunderwood@polleyfaith.com jprince@polleyfaith.com Jean Nelson Tel: (613) 731-8610 Fax: (613) 526-7571 j ean.nelson@cma.ca Counsel for the Intervener, the Canadian Medical Association GOWLING LAFLEUR HENDERSON LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1 C3 D. Lynne Watt Tel: (613) 786-8695 Fax: (613) 788-3509 email lynne. watt@gowlings.com Ottawa Agent for the Intervener, the Canadian Medical Association ORIGINAL TO: The Registrar Supreme Court of Canada 301 Wellington Street Ottawa, Ontario KIA OJI COPIES TO: Counsel for the Appellants, Lee Carter, Hollis Johnson, Dr. William Shoichet, The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and Gloria Taylor Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. and Alison M. Latimer Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 25 th Floor, 700 West Georgia Street Vancouver, BC V7Y 1B3 Tel: (604) 684-9151 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: jarvay@farris.com -and- Sheila M. Tucker Davis LLP 2800- 666 Burrard Street Vancouver, BC V6C 2Z7 Tel: (604) 643-2980 Fax: (604) 605-3781 Email: stucker@davis.ca Agent for the Appellants Jeffrey W. Beedell Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1C3 Tel: (613) 233-1781 Fax: (613) 788-3587 Email: jeff. beedell@gowlings.com Counsel for the Respondent, Attorney General of Canada Donnaree Nygard and Robert Frater Department of Justice Canada 900 - 840 Howe Street Vancouver, BC V6Z 2S9 Tel: (604) 666-3049 Fax: (604) 775-5942 Email: donnaree.nygard@justice.gc.ca Counsel for the Respondent, Attorney General of British Columbia Jean M. Walters Ministry of Justice Legal Services Branch 6th Floor - 1001 Douglas Street PO Box 9230 Stn Prov Govt Victoria, BC V8W 9J7 Tel: (250) 356-8894 Fax: (250) 356-9154 Email: jean.walters@gov.bc.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Attorney General of Ontario Zachary Green Attorney General of Ontario 720 Bay Street, 4th Floor Toronto, ON MSG 2Kl Tel: ( 416) 326-4460 Fax: (416) 326-4015 Email: zachary.green@ontario.ca Agent for the Respondent, Attorney General of Canada Robert Frater Department of Justice Canada Civil Litigation Section 50 O'Connor Street, Suite 50 Ottawa, Ontario KIA 0H8 Tel: (613) 670-6289 Fax: (613) 954-1920 Email: ro bert. frater@ j ustice. gc.ca Agent for the Respondent, Attorney General of British Columbia Robert E. Houston, Q.C. Burke-Robertson 441 MacLaren Street, Suite 200 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H3 Tel: (613) 236-9665 Fax: (613) 235-4430 Email: rhouston@burkerobertson.com Agent for the Intervener, Attorney General of Ontario Robert E. Houston, Q.C. Burke-Robertson 441 MacLaren Street, Suite 200 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2H3 Tel: (613) 236-9665 Fax: (613) 235-4430 Email: rhouston@burkerobertson.com Counsel for the Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec Sylvain Leboef and Syltiane Goulet Procureur general du Quebec 1200, Route de L'Eglise, 2eme etage Quebec, QC GlV 4Ml Tel: (418) 643-1477 Fax: ( 418) 644-7030 Email: sylvain.leboeuf@justice.gouv.gc.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living David Baker Sarah Mohamed Bakerlaw 4 711 Yonge Street, Suite 509 Toronto, Ontario M2N 6K8 Tel: (416) 533-0040 Fax: ( 416) 533-0050 Email: dbaker@bakerlaw.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Christian Legal Fellowship Gerald D. Chipeur, Q.C. Miller Thomirson LLP 3000, 700-9t A venue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P 3V4 Tel: (403) 298-2425 Fax: (403) 262-0007 Agent for the Intervener, Attorney General of Quebec Pierre Landry Noel & Associes 111 Champlain Street Gatineau, QC J8X 3Rl Tel: (819)771-7393 Fax: (819) 771-5397 Email: p.landry@noelassocies.com Agent for the Intervener, Council of Canadians with Disabilities and the Canadian Association for Community Living Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone A venue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@supremeadvocacy.ca Agent for the Intervener, Christian Legal Fellowship Eugene Meehan, Q.C. Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone A venue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 101 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: emeehan@supremeadvocacy.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Agent for the Intervener, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario Gordon Capern Michael Fenrick Paliare, Roland, Rosenberg, Rothstein, LLP 155 Wellington Street West, 35 th Floor Toronto, Ontario M5V 3Hl Tel: ( 416) 646-4311 Fax: (416) 646-4301 Email: gordon.capem@paliareroland.com Counsel for the Intervener, Reformed Political Action Canada Andre Schutten ARPA Canada I Rideau Street, Suite 700 Ottawa, Ontario KIN 8S7 Tel: (613) 297-5172 Fax: (613) 670-5701 Email: andre@ARP A Canada.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Collectif des medecins contre l'euthanasie Pierre Bienvenu Andres C. Garin Vincent Rochette Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP 1, Place Ville Marie, Bureau 2500 Montreal, Quebec H3B IRI Tel: (514) 847-4452 Fax: (514) 286-5474 Email: pierre. bienvenue@nortonrose.com Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@supremeadvocacy.ca Agent for the Intervener, Collectif des medecins contre l'euthanasie Sally Gomery Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP 1500-45 O'Connor Street Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1A4 Tel: (613) 780-8604 Fax: (613) 230-5459 Email: sally. gomery@nortonrose.com Counsel for the Intervener, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Geoffrey Trotter Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation 1185 West Georgia Street, suite 1700 Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4E6 Tel: (604) 678-9190 Fax: (604) 259-2459 Email: gt @ gtlawcorp .com Counsel for the Intervener, Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada Albertos Polizogopoulos Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP 260 Dalhousie Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario KlN 7E4 Tel: (613) 241-2701 Fax: (613) 241-2599 Email: albertos @ vdg.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies Geoffrey Trotter Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation 1185 West Georgia Street, suite 1700 Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4E6 Tel: (604) 678-9190 Fax: (604) 259-2459 Email: gt@gtlawcorp.com Agent for the Intervener, Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Albertos Polizogopoulos Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP 260 Dalhousie Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 N 7E4 Tel : (613) 241-2701 Fax: (613) 241-2599 Rmail: albertos@vdg.ca Agent for the Intervener, Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext : 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@.supremeadvocacy.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Dying with Dignity Cynthia Petersen Kelly Doctor Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 1100-20 Dundas Street West, Box 180 Toronto, Ontario MSG 2G8 Tel: (416) 977-6070 Fax: (416) 591-7333 Email: cpetersen@sgmlaw.com Counsel for the Intervener, Catholic Health Alliance of Canada Russell G. Gibson Albertos Polizogopoulos Vincent Dagenais Gibson LLP 260 Dalhousie Street, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 N 7E4 Tel: (613) 241-2701 Ext. 229 Fax: (613) 241-2599 Email: russell.gibson@vdg.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Criminal Lawyers' Association (Ontario) Marlys A. Edwarth Daniel Sheppard Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 1100-20 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario MSG 2G8 Tel: (416) 979-4380 Fax: (416) 979-4430 Email: medwarth@ sgmlaw.com Agent for the Intervener, Dying with Dignity Raija Pulkkinen Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP 500-30 Metcalfe Street Ottawa, Ontario KIP 5L4 Tel: (613) 235-5327 Fax: (613) 235-3041 Email: rpulkkinen@sgmlaw.com Agent for the Intervener, Criminal Lawyers' Association (Ontario) D. Lynne Watt Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 P 1 C3 Tel: (613) 786-8695 Fax: (613) 788-3509 Email: lynne. watt@gowlings.com Counsel for the Intervener, Farewell Foundation For The Right To Die Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. Alison Latimer Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 700 West Georgia Street, 25th Floor Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1B3 Tel: (604) 684-9151 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: jarvay@farris.com Counsel for the Intervener, Association Quebecoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignite Joseph J. Arvay, Q.C. Alison Latimer Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 700 West Georgia Street, 25th Floor Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1B3 Tel: (604) 684-9151 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: jarvay@farris.com Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Christopher D. Bredt Ewa Krajewska Margot Finley Borden Ladner Gervais LLP Scotia Plaza, 40 King Street West Toronto, Ontario M5H 3Y4 Tel: (416) 367-6165 Fax: (416) 361-7063 Email: cbredt@blg.com Agent for the Intervener, Farewell Foundation For The Right To Die Jeffrey W. Beedell Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1C3 Tel: (613) 786-0171 Fax: (613) 788-3587 Email: jeff.beedell@gowlings.com Agent for the Intervener, Association Quebecoise pour le droit de mourir dans la dignite Jeffrey W. Beedell Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP 160 Elgin Street, Suite 2600 Ottawa, Ontario K 1 P 1 C3 Tel: (613) 786-0171 Fax: (613) 788-3587 Email: jeff.beedell@gowling .com Agent for the Intervener, Canadian Civil Liberties Association Nadia Effendi Borden Ladner Gervais LLP World Exchange Plaza 100 Queen Street, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario KlP 119 Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Counsel for the Intervener, Catholic Civil Rights League Ranjan K. Agarwal Jack R. Maslen Bennett Jones LLP 3400 One First Canadian Place P.O. Box 130, Station 1st Canadian Place Toronto, Ontario M5X 1A4 Tel: (416) 863-1200 Fax: (416) 863-1716 Email: agarwalr@bennettjones.com Counsel for the Intervener, Faith and Freedom Alliance and Protection of Conscience Project Geoffrey Trotter Ranjan K. Agarwal Jack R. Maslen Geoffrey Trotter Law Corporation 1185 West Georgia Street, suite 1700 Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4E6 Tel: (604) 678-9190 Fax: (604) 259-2459 Email: gt@gtlawcorp.com Agent for the Intervener, Catholic Civil Rights League Sheridan Scott Bennett Jones LLP 1900-45 O'Connor Street World Exchange Plaza Ottawa, Ontario KlP 1A4 Tel: (613) 683-2302 Fax: (613) 683-2323 Email: scotts@bennettjones.com Agent for the Intervener, Faith and Freedom Alliance and Protection of Conscience Project Marie-France Major Supreme Advocacy LLP 397 Gladstone Avenue, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0Y9 Tel: (613) 695-8855 Ext: 102 Fax: (613) 695-8580 Email: mfmajor@supremeadvocacy.ca Counsel for the Intervener, Alliance of People with Disabilities who are Supportive of Legal Assisted Dying Society Angus M. Gunn, Q.C. Borden Ladner Gervais LLP 1200-200 Burrard Street Vancouver, British Columbia V7X 1 T2 Tel: (604) 687-5744 Fax: (604) 687-1415 Counsel for the Intervener, Canadian Unitarian Council Tim A. Dickson R.J.M. Androsoff Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP 700 West Georgia Street, 25 th Floor Vancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1 B3 Tel: (604) 661-9341 Fax: (604) 661-9349 Email: tdickson@farris.com Counsel for the Intervener, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition -British Columbia Hugh R. Scher Scher Law Professional Corporation 69· Bloor Street East, Suite 210 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A9 Tel: (416) 515-9686 Fax: ( 416) 969-1815 Email: hugh@sdlaw.ca Agent for the Intervener, Alliance of People with Disabilities who are Supportive of Legal Assisted Dying Society Nadia Effendi Borden Ladner Gervais LLP World Exchange Plaza 100 Queen Street, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1J9 Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Agent for the Intervener, Canadian Unitarian Council Nadia Effendi Borden Ladner Gervais LLP World Exchange Plaza 100 Queen Street, Suite 100 Ottawa, Ontario KIP 1J9 Tel: (613) 237-5160 Fax: (613) 230-8842 Agent for the Intervener, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition -British Columbia Yael Wexler Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 55 Metcalfe Street, Suite 1300 Ottawa, Ontario MlP 6L5 Tel: (613) 236-3882 Fax: (613) 230-6423 Email: ywexler@fasken.com Index Part I: Overview of Argument .... ... .. . ... . ... . ...... . ............. ... ... ... ......... .. .. .. . .. ... ... ... .. ... .. ..... .... .. ... ..... 1 Part II: Statement of Argument. ... ... .. ...... ... .. ........ ... ... ..... .... ... .. ..... ... ... ... .. .. ... .... ... ......... ...... ... ..... 2 A. The CMA's policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide .. ....... ......... .... .. ..... ...... ..... ... ... .. 2 B. The implications of a change in the law ...................... .... ... ................. ..... ... ...... .. ... ...... 5 1. Palliative care .............................................................. ...... ... .. ... ... ....... ... ............ . 5 2. Concerns over safeguards .................................. ..... . ........ . .......... .. ......... ........... .. 7 3. Protections for physicians ...... ..... .. .... ......... ... .... ... .. ... .. .. ... ... . .......... . .. ... ... .. ... .. .. ... 8 Part III: Submissions regarding remedy ............. ... ...... ... ... ... .... ... ... ... ........ ............................. ... . 9 Part IV: Submissions regarding costs ..... . ...... ........ ..... .. ........ . ... .. .. ....... ....... ... .... .. ..... ..... .. ... . ..... .. 9 Part V: Request for oral argument.. .... ... .. .. .......... .. .. ... .. ..... .. ..... .. ... . ........ ... .. .... .......... ....... ...... .. 10 -1- Part I: Overview of Argument 1. The policy of the Canadian Medical Association ( the "CMA") on euthanasia and assisted suicide1 forms part of the trial record.2 The policy was debated at successive annual meetings of the CMA's members in 2013 and 2014, resulting in its amendment. In 2013, new definitions were added to clarify key terminology used. In August 2014, a motion was passed by delegates to CMA's General Council, and affirmed by the CMA Board of Directors, supporting the right of all physicians, within the bounds of existing legislation, to follow their conscience when deciding whether or not to provide medical aid in dying. 3 The policy will be amended as a consequence. 2. It is anticipated that the policy, once amended, will continue to reflect the ethical principles for physicians to consider in choosing whether or not to participate in medical aid in dying. 3. The statement of support for matters of conscience now exists alongside the statement in the CMA policy that "Canadian physicians should not participate in euthanasia or assisted suicide." As long as such practices remain illegal, the CMA believes that physicians should not participate in medical aid in dying. If the law were to change, the CMA would support its members who elect to follow their conscience. 4. A portion of the CMA's membership believes that patients should be free to choose medical aid in dying as a matter of autonomy. Other voices highlight that participation would undermine long-established ethical principles applicable to the practice of medicine. Amidst this 1 CMA Policy: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Update 2014), https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assetslibrary/ document/en/about-us/PD14-06.pdf#search=assisted%20death. 2 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General}, 2012 BCSC 886, paragraphs 6 and 274. 3 Resolutions adopted at the 14ih Annual Meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, Aug. 18-20, 2014: ~www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-lib rary/document/en/advocacy/ Flnal -Resolutions-GC-2014-end-of-lifecare. pdf. -2- diversity of views, however, there is a unifying theme: one of respect for the alternative perspective. This element was highlighted in the policy motion coming out of the CMA's August 2014 General Council meeting. 5. The CMA accepts that the decision of whether or not medical aid in dying should be allowed as a matter of law is for lawmakers, not medical doctors, to determine. The policy itself acknowledges, uniquely among CMA policies in this respect, that "[i]t is the prerogative of society to decide whether the laws dealing with euthanasia and assisted suicide should be changed." 6. As the national voice of physicians across the country, the CMA intervenes in this appeal desiring to assist the Court by providing its perspective on the rationale for the diverse views expressed by its membership, and to highlight practical considerations that must be assessed if the law were to change. Part II: Statement of Argument A. The CMA's policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide 7. The CMA's policy on euthanasia and assisted suicide4 was adopted in 2007, replacing and consolidating two previous CMA policies5 , and has been amended twice since then as noted above. 8. In an effort to promote broad public and member discussion, in the first half of 2014 the CMA hosted a series of town hall meetings across Canada on end of life care issues. Members of the public and the profession were able to attend the town halls in person, or post comments 4 CMA Policy: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Update 2014): https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assetslibrary/ document/en/about-us/PD14-06.pdf#search=assisted%20death. 5 Physician Assisted Death 1995 and Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (1998). -3 - online, to provide their perspectives and opm1ons on, inter alia, euthanasia and physicianassisted suicide. 6 9. The CMA adopts policies in order to inform the organization's advocacy efforts, and to provide physician members with an understanding of the views and opinions of their national representative organization and to reflect the views of its membership. The CMA' s policies are not meant to mandate a standard of care for members or to override an individual physician's conscience. 10. The CMA recognizes that many of its policies are referenced by other health care groups and the courts, as well as the provincial and territorial medical regulatory authorities. 11. In general, those CMA members who oppose medical aid in dying do so because of the derogation from established medical ethical principles and clinical practices that would result. Those who support medical aid in dying do so because of the equally established principles of considering patient well-being and patient autonomy. The policy in its current form reflects these various considerations . 12. Physicians have a tremendous amount of compassion and concern for patients who are suffering near the end of their lives, and strive to improve their patients' quality of life for the remainder of their lives. Physicians are trained to be healers. For most Canadian physicians , the question is not a simple matter of balancing between patient autonomy and professional standards, but goes much deeper, to the very core of what it means to be a medical professional. 6 The CMA published two reports coming out of the end of life care town halls - a public report in June 2014 and a CMA members' report in July 2014 - both of which can be found on the CMA's website. -4- 13. One rationale for the position in opposition to physician participation is that euthanasia and assisted suicide would have, as the policy states, "unpredictable effects on the practice of medicine" as well as the physician-patient relationship. 7 14. At the same time, the policy recognizes the principle of patient autonomy, and the fact that it is a competing consideration. It cites several articles from the CMA Code of Ethics 8 that emphasize the importance of patient well-being and autonomy. 9 Physicians are advised to "consider first the well-being of your patient." 15. Opposition to paiiicipation is found in statements from the World Medical Association and various national medical associations akin to the CMA. 10 In jurisdictions where medical aid in dying has been legali zed , the practice is considered "ethically sound .. . and part of end of life care" by the national medical association in the Netherlands and the Belgian association has not published any policy . 11 7 CMA Policy: Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (Update 2014): https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assetslibrary/ document/en/about-us/PD14-06.pdf#search=assisted%20death. 8 For example, "Provide your patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their medical care, and answer their questions to the best of your ability"; "Respect the right of a competent patient to accept or reject any medical care recommended"; and "Ascertain wherever possible and recognize your patient's wishes about the initiation, continuation or cessation of life-sustaining treatment." 9 The concept of patient autonomy is usually associated with allowing or at least enabling patients to make their own decisions about which health care treatments they will or will not receive, or incorporating their point of view into assessments of the appropriateness and effectiveness of treatment options. See: Entwistle, VA. , Carter, SM ., Cribb, A. & Mccaffery, K. (2010) . 'Supporting patient autonomy : The importance of clinician-patient relationships'. Journal of General Internal Medicine, vol 25, no. 7, pp. 741-745; and Sullivan MD. "The new subjective medicine: taking the patient's point of view on health care and health" . Soc Sci Med 56:1595 - 1604, 2003 . 10 World Medical Association Statement on Physician-Assisted Dying. Adopted by the 44th World Medical Assembly, Marbella, Spain, September 1992 and editorially revised by the 170th WMA Council Session, Divonne-les-Bains, France, May 2005: http ://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/p13/. British Medical Association. What is the current BMA policy on assisted dying? http://bma.org.uk/practical-support-at-work/ethics/bma-policyassisted- dying. Australian Medical Association. Position Statement on the Role of the Medical Practitioner in End of Life Care 2007, section 10 : https://ama .com.au/position -statement/role-medical- pr actit ioner-end -life-ca re-2007 . American Medical Association' s Opinion 2. 211- Physician-Assisted Suicide: http://www .amaass n.org/ama/pub/p hys i cian-r esources/ medi ca1 -ethic s/ co de-med ica l-ethi cs/o pin ion2211 .page ?. 11 KNMG. Euthanasia in the Netherlands. Available at: http://knmg.artsennet.nl/Dossiers-9/Dossiersthematrefwoord / Levenseinde/ Eu t hanasia-in-the-Netherlands -1.htm. -5- 16. It is acknowledged that just moral and ethical arguments form the basis of arguments that both support and deny assisted death. The CMA accepts that, in the face of such diverse opinion, based on individuals' consciences, it would not be appropriate for it to seek to impose or advocate for a single standard for the medical profession. 1 7. In any event, the CMA accepts that the decision as to the lawfulness of the current prohibition on medical aid in dying is for patients and their elected representatives as lawmakers to determine, not physicians. B. The implications of a change in the law 18. The CMA and its members have practical and procedural concerns to bring to the Court for reflection with respect to the legalization of medical aid in dying and the implications for medical practice. Three such implications are addressed below. 1. Palliative care 19. One question and element highlighted in CMA policy formulation is the role of palliative care and whether adequate public access is a precondition to changing the law. The CMA acknowledges that the desire to access medical aid in dying is predicated, at least in part, on the inadequacy or inability of palliative care to address a patient's needs in particular circumstances. The policy currently recognizes that adequate palliative care is a prerequisite to the legalization of medical aid in dying. That is because patients should never have to choose death because of unbearable pain which can, in fact, be treated, but the treatment cannot, in reality, be accessed. 20. However, even if palliative care were readily available and effective, there would likely be some patients who would still opt for medical aid in dying over palliative care. Moreover, it -6- seems wrong to deny grievously ill patients the option of medical aid in dying simply because of systemic inadequacies in the delivery of palliative care. 21. The public and the medical profession lack current, specific and non-anecdotal information as to the availability of adequate palliative care across Canada. Notwithstanding this lack of rigorous data, concerns are often expressed. 12 As Justice Smith held at trial, "High quality palliative care is far from universally available in Canada."13 The policy itself provides that "[ e ]fforts to broaden the availability of palliative care in Canada should be intensified." 22. Canada has no national strategy to ensure the delivery of a uniformly high standard of palliative care across the country. Similarly, there are no national uniform standards which direct when and how palliative care is to be provided and by which physicians. At the CMA's annual meeting in August 2014, motions were passed as policy affirming that (i) all health care providers should have access to referral for palliative care services and expertise, (ii) a strategy should be developed for advance care planning, palliative and end of life care in all provinces and territories, and (iii) the CMA will engage in physician human resource planning to develop an appropriate strategy to ensure the delivery of quality palliative care throughout Canada. 14 23. Regardless of the outcome of this appeal, the Canadian public and the medical profession must unite in insisting upon the dedication of appropriate resources to overcome the deficiencies identified above. Palliative care will continue to be a focus of the CMA's future policy development. 12 The Senate of Canada: the Honourable Sharon Carstairs, Raising the Bar: A Roadmap for the Future of Palliative Care in Canada, June 2010, http://www.chpca.net/media/7859/Raising the Bar June 2010.pdf, pages 12 and 16. 13 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General). 2012 BCSC 886, paragraph 192. 14 Resolutions adopted at the 14ih Annual Meeting of the Canadian Medical Association, Aug. 18-20, 2014: https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets~libra ry/document/en/advocacy/Final-Resolutions-GC-2014-end-of-!ife-care.pdf -7- 2. Concerns over safeguards 24. The trial judge placed great reliance on the ability of physicians to assess the competency of patients requesting medical aid in dying and the voluntariness of their wishes. 15 The CMA submits that the challenges physicians will face in making these assessments have been understated, especially in the end of life care context where the consequences of decisions are particularly grave and in a public medical system in which resource constraints are a pressing issue. 16 25. The CMA submits that these assessments will involve significant new responsibilities that warrant comprehensive study by and with physicians for the following reasons: 15 a) Patients must be afforded a full right of informed consent, but the ordinary context in which a physician obtains the patient's informed consent would not apply since the intervention would be initiated not by the physician's recommendation but by the patient's request and since the patient's decision may tum more than usually is the case upon considerations apart from the expected efficacy of the treatment. b) A patient may be subject to influences which the patient is motivated not to disclose to his or her physician and which may be very difficult to detect. c) Such important decisions are best made following careful discussions between physician and patient, well in advance, concerning the patient's end of life wishes generally. The CMA and its provincial and territorial medical association colleagues note that these types of discussions do not now routinely occur, and that when they do, patients' assessments of their goals can and do evolve over the course of their illness. 17 Carter v. Canada (Attorney General}, 2012 BCSC 886, paragraphs 883, 1240 and 1367. 16 Chaoulli v. Quebec (Attorney General}, (2005] 1 SCR 791, paragraphs 173 and 221-222. 17 The Policy urges that "a Canadian study of medical decision making during dying" be undertaken. It explains that "relatively little" is known about "the frequency of various medical decisions made near the end of life, how these -8- d) It may be very difficult to assess competency and voluntariness in some patients (for example, the very old, the very ill and the depressed) and in some settings (for example, the emergency room and the intensive care unit) where there may not be an established physician-patient relationship. e) Institutional supports are lacking, including recognition in provincial fee schedules of the time that is required for meetings with patients and their families. 3. Protections for physicians 26. The CMA submits that, if the law were to change, any regime of medical aid in dying must legally protect those physicians who choose to participate from criminal, civil or disciplinary proceedings or sanctions. 27. In addition, if the law were to change, no physician should be compelled to participate in or provide medical aid in dying to a patient, either at all, because the physician conscientiously objects to medical aid in dying, or in individual cases, in which the physician makes a clinical assessment that the patient's decision is contrary to the patient's best interests. Notably, no jurisdiction that has legalized medical aid in dying compels physician participation. 18 If the decisions are made and the satisfaction of patients, families, physicians and other caregivers with the decisionmaking process and outcomes." See also the Ontario Medical Association, 'Ontario Doctors Launch End of Life Care Plan'. Available at: https:Uwww.oma.org/resources/documents/eolcstrategyframework.pdf. 18 Quebec: Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, 1st Sess, 41st Leg, Quebec, 2014 cl 50 (assented to 10 June 2014), SQ 2014, c2; Netherlands: Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act (2002) .b.1ti;! ://www .eu th anasi ecom missie .n 1/1 mages/Wet%20toetsi ng%201evensbeei nd iging%20op%20verzoek%20en%20 hulp%20bij%20zelfdoding%20Engels tcm52-36287.pdf; Switzerland: Suiss Criminal Code, Book Two : Specific Provisions, Title One: Offences against Life and Limb, Article 115 (1942). http://www.admin.ch/ opc/ en/ classifiedcompilation/ 19370083/index.html; Belgium: Loi relative a l'euthanasie, Chapitre 6, article 14 (2002) http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi lei/change lg.pl?language=fr&la=F&ta ble name=loi&cn=2002052837; Luxembourg: Loi du 16 mars 2009 sur l'euthanasie et /'assistance au suicide, Chapitre 7, article 15 (2009). http://www.legil ux. pu bl ic.Ju/1 eg/a/arch ives/2009/0046/a046. pdf#page= 7; Washington: The Washington Death with Dignity Act, RCW, 70 §70.245.190 (2009). http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=70.245.190; Oregon: The Oregon Death with Dignity Act, ORS, 127 §127.885 4.01 (1997). http ://public. hea Ith. oregon .gov /P roviderP a rtnerReso u rces/Eva I u ati on Res ea rch/Deathwith Dign i tyAct/Docu men ts/ statute.pdf; Vermont: An act relating to patient choice and control at the end of life, VSA, 113 § 5285 (a) {2013). -9- attending physician declines to participate, every jurisdiction that has legalized medical aid in dying has adopted a process for eligible patients to be transferred to a participating physician. 19 28. While the Court cannot and should not set out a comprehensive regime, the CMA submits that it can indicate that a practicable legislative regime for medical aid in dying must legally protect those physicians who choose to provide this new intervention to their patients, as well as those who do not. Part III: Submissions regarding remedy 29. If the law is changed, the CMA would ask this Court to adopt a remedy that would preserve the autonomy and constitutional rights of patients and their health care providers. To that end, the CMA asks the Court to adopt a remedy akin to what Justice Smith ordered at the trial level: suspending the effect of a declaration for one year from the date of any decision and instituting a process for individual exemptions such as that afforded to the late Ms. Taylor. Part IV: Submissions regarding costs 30. The CMA seeks no costs and asks that none be awarded against it. http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2014/Acts/ACT039.pdf; New-Mexico: Morris v New-Mexico (2014); and Montana: Baxter v Montana, 482 LEXIS at 59 (2008). 19 Canadian Medical Association, Schedule A: Legal Status of Physician-Assisted Dying (PAD) in Jurisdictions with Legislation, https://www.cma.ca/ Assets/ assets-II bra ry/ document/ en/advocacy/ EO L/Leg a 1-status-p hysicia nassi sted-d eat h-j u risd i cti on slegislation. odf#search=schedule%20A%3A%201egal%20stacus%20of%20physician%2Dassisted%20death, page 3. -10- Part V: Request for oral argument 31. The CMA requests permission to make fifteen minutes of oral argument at the hearing of this appeal. ALL OF WHICH IS RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED, this 27th day of August, 2014. /_/ - Harry Underwood Jean Nels
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International Medical Graduates : Notes for an address by Dr. Albert J. Schumacher, President, Canadian Medical Association : Presentation to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy2006
Last Reviewed
2012-03-03
Date
2005-02-17
Topics
Health human resources
  1 document  
Policy Type
Parliamentary submission
Last Reviewed
2012-03-03
Date
2005-02-17
Topics
Health human resources
Text
Good afternoon, I am Dr. Albert Schumacher, President of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) and a family physician from Windsor, Ontario. With me today is Dr. Todd Watkins, Director, Office of Professional Services at CMA and also a family physician. It is estimated that some 4.5 million Canadians have had trouble finding a family doctor, while more than 3 million Canadians do not have regular access to one. Long waiting lists for consultations and specialized diagnostic and therapeutic procedures suggest there is a shortage of specialists. Including time spent on call, Canada’s physicians worked an average of 70 to 80 hours a week. Of the 21,000 physicians surveyed in the recently released National Physicians’ Survey, over a quarter said they plan to reduce their work week within the next two years. 60% of family doctors either limit the number of new patients they see or have closed their practices. At the same time, the average age of physicians in Canada is 48 years with 32% 55 years of age or older. Almost 4000 physicians may retire in the next two years. There is a “perfect storm” brewing in terms of health human resource in Canada. The message I hope to leave with you today is that the valuable participation of International Medical Graduates (IMGs) in our medical workforce must be part of a coordinated pan-Canadian plan that strives to address the double imperatives of immigration policies that are fair and policies that in the short, medium and longer term will ensure greater self-sufficiency in the education and training of physicians in Canada. Today I am going to focus on three things: Number one: clarify some of the myths about IMGs in Canada; Number two: stress the need for greater capacity in Canada’s medical education and training infrastructure; and Lastly: emphasize the importance of a national standard for licensure. Myths There are a few myths that abound about IMGs in Canada. If you were to believe some of what you read or hear in the media you might gather that it is next to impossible for international medical graduates to enter the practice of medicine in Canada. Nothing could be further from the truth. As of last month, almost one quarter of the physicians working in our health care system received their medical degree in a country other than Canada. This proportion has declined by only 2% since the 1960s. Estimates peg the number of IMGs arriving in Canada with pre-arranged employment licensed to practice each year at 400. Quite simply, our health care system could not function without the critical contributions of qualified international medical graduates (IMGs). Also, many IMGs access the postgraduate training system in Canada. As of December 2004 there were 316 IMGs who were either Canadian citizens or permanent residents in their first year of postgraduate residency training – this represents 15% of the total number of first-year trainees. In the past few years only a few provinces have greatly expanded opportunities for assessing the clinical skills of IMGs and providing supplementary training and practice opportunities. Just two weekends ago some 550 IMG’s participated in the Ontario Provincial IMG Clinical Assessment which was offered at four medical schools across the province. This will lead to some 200 IMGs being licensed to practice in Ontario. Other provinces have similar programs. I would note that the initiatives of the federal government announced by the Honourable Hedy Fry in March 2004 have been very helpful in communicating information about and raising awareness of the requirements to practice medicine in Canada. Some $3 million announced at that time was provided to assist provinces and territories in assessing IMGs and will add at least 100 internationally trained physicians into the system. I am optimistic that her continued collaborative efforts with the medical community will result in positive changes. So, has Canada closed its borders to IMGs? Hardly. Can more be done to achieve fairness? Absolutely. Capacity I can not stress strongly enough the need to increase the capacity of Canada’s undergraduate medical education and postgraduate training system. There are some who think that the fastest and least expensive way of meeting our medical workforce requirements is to simply recruit medical graduates from other countries. In the short term this is a major part of the fix. It is, however, no substitute for a “made in Canada” solution for the long term. As a long-term policy it fails to recognize the fact that the countries from which we poach these IMGs can ill afford to lose them. We are simply not pulling our weight as a country in educating and training future physicians. As my predecessor, Dr. Sunil Patel told his Committee last April, in 2002 there were roughly 6.5 first year medical school places per 100,000 population in Canada – just over one-half of the UK’s rate of 12.2 per 100,000. The CMA has recommended a 2007 target of 2500 first year medical positions and at the moment we are tracking toward 2300. Over reliance on IMGs also fails to appreciate the critical role played by Canada’s academic health science centres. These institutions have a three-fold mission of teaching, research and the provision of a great deal of patient care and these three components are inextricably linked. Expanded capacity will work to the benefit of both Canadians aspiring to attain a medical education and IMGs. For example, in 2004 of the 657 IMGs entering second iteration of the residency match, just 87 or 13% were successful. We need to expand capacity not only within academic health sciences centres themselves, but we need to recruit and support clinical teachers out in the community. This is crucial, especially for the IMG assessment programs now being rolled out. But most importantly, an enhanced education and training infrastructure will help meet the future health needs of Canadians. The goal that had been identified in the 2004 First Minister’s Agreement, specified $250 million a year beginning in 2009-10 through 2013-14 “primarily for health human resources” training and hiring. However, Bill C-39, which was recently tabled to implement provisions of the 10-year plan by creating the Wait Times Reduction Fund, falls short of what Canadians deserve and expect. Specifically, it stipulates theses dollars may be used for multiple purposes. This failure to recognize the critical shortage of health care professionals by dedicating specific dollars to the issue now could mean the promised investments may never be made to enhance health human resources. The temptation will be to continue to rely on “beggar thy neighbour” policies. However, Canada can and must do better to pull its own weight. Importance of a National Standard As the national organization representing Canada’s physicians we have a direct interest in working with government to ensure Canadians have access to health care when they need it. The CMA has a role in medical and health education in the accreditation of undergraduate medical education and the accreditation of the training programs of some 15 health disciplines. However, the CMA is not a regulator. We do not grant credentials or license physicians. Regulation of medicine falls under the purview of the provincial and territorial colleges of physicians and credentials are granted by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College des Médecins du Quebec. If medicine has a lesson to offer other professions and occupations it is in the value of having a national standard. While health is the constitutional responsibility of the provinces and territories, medicine has been able to realize a national standard for portable eligibility for licensure across Canada. Beginning in 1992 the basis for licensure in all provinces/territories except Quebec has been the successful completion of the two-part Qualifying Examination of the Medical Council of Canada plus certification by either the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The procedures in place in Quebec are very similar. To be sure there can be interpretation around the application of the standard, but without a doubt it has provided a significant degree of transparency and uniformity about what is required to practice medicine in Canada. This not only promotes a concordance between the programs offered by our 16 (soon to be 17) medical schools but also provides a basis for the assessment of international programs. On this latter point, the Institute for International Medical Education has a database that contains information on more than 1,800 medical schools in 165 countries around the world. Conclusion During pre-budget hearings last fall, I submitted to the Standing Committee on Finance our plan to address health human resources shortages. As was the case then, IMGs are a critical part of the CMA plan. A plan that has as its core the belief that Canada must adopt a policy of increased self-sufficiency in the production of physicians in Canada. This involves: * increased opportunities for Canadians to pursue medical education in Canada; * enhanced opportunities for practising physicians to return for additional training; * strategies to retain physicians in practice and in Canada; and * increased opportunities for IMGs who are permanent residents or citizens of Canada to access post-MD training leading to licensure/certification and the practice of medicine in Canada. This set of imperatives needs to be balanced against a need for fairness. Fairness to ensure those who need to obtain further medical training are able to do so. And, fairness to young Canadians who deserve a chance to pursue a career in medicine. I appreciate the opportunity of entering into a dialogue with members of the Committee and look forward to your questions. Thank you.
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