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CMA PolicyBase

Policies that advocate for the medical profession and Canadians


19 records – page 1 of 2.

Allocation of health care resources

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy389
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC00-186
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its divisions and affiliates to determine and proclaim the values that should influence health care priority setting and allocation of health care resources in Canada.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2014-03-01
Date
2000-08-16
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC00-186
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its divisions and affiliates to determine and proclaim the values that should influence health care priority setting and allocation of health care resources in Canada.
Text
That the Canadian Medical Association work with its divisions and affiliates to determine and proclaim the values that should influence health care priority setting and allocation of health care resources in Canada.
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Annual National Physicians' Week

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1528
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC04-55
The Canadian Medical Association will explore the feasibility of sponsoring, supporting and promoting an annual National Physicians' Week or other similar national event to celebrate the many contributions and achievements of Canadian physicians providing quality health care to their patients.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
GC04-55
The Canadian Medical Association will explore the feasibility of sponsoring, supporting and promoting an annual National Physicians' Week or other similar national event to celebrate the many contributions and achievements of Canadian physicians providing quality health care to their patients.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association will explore the feasibility of sponsoring, supporting and promoting an annual National Physicians' Week or other similar national event to celebrate the many contributions and achievements of Canadian physicians providing quality health care to their patients.
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Bill C-6: An Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction and Related Research

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1620
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-02-28
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD04-05-92
The Canadian Medical Association reaffirms its position on Bill C-6. [An Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction and Related Research]
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-02-28
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Resolution
BD04-05-92
The Canadian Medical Association reaffirms its position on Bill C-6. [An Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction and Related Research]
Text
The Canadian Medical Association reaffirms its position on Bill C-6. [An Act Respecting Assisted Human Reproduction and Related Research]
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Compensation ceilings for GP's and access to front-line services

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1524
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC04-51
The Canadian Medical Association recommends that compensation ceilings for general practitioners where they exist be removed in order to improve access to front-line services.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC04-51
The Canadian Medical Association recommends that compensation ceilings for general practitioners where they exist be removed in order to improve access to front-line services.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association recommends that compensation ceilings for general practitioners where they exist be removed in order to improve access to front-line services.
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Equity and diversity in medicine

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy14127
Date
2019-12-07
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
  3 documents  
Policy Type
Policy document
Date
2019-12-07
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
The objective of this policy is to provide guidance to physicians and institutions by identifying a set of guiding principles and commitments to promote equity and diversity in medicine (as defined in the Guiding Principles section). We address equity and diversity in medicine to improve circumstances and opportunities for all physicians and learners as part of our efforts to create a more collaborative and respectful culture and practice of medicine. To achieve this, we must redress inequities, bias, and discrimination in learning and practice environments. Individual protection from bias and discrimination is a fundamental right of all Canadians. By embracing the principles of equity and diversity, we can systematically address root causes and reduce structural barriers faced by those who want to enter the medical profession and those practicing medicine. In so doing, we improve their opportunities for advancement, health, and livelihood. The principles of equity and diversity are grounded in the fundamental commitment of the medical profession to respect for persons. This commitment recognizes that everyone has equal and inherent worth, has the right to be valued and respected, and to be treated with dignity. When we address equity and diversity, we are opening the conversation to include the voices and knowledge of those who have historically been under-represented and/or marginalized. It is a process of empowerment—where a person can engage with and take action on issues they define as important. Empowerment involves a meaningful shift in experience that fosters belonging in the profession and draws on community supports. As part of equity and diversity frameworks, inclusion is often articulated to refer to strategies used to increase an individual’s ability to contribute fully and effectively to organisational structures and processes. Inclusion strategies are specific organisational practices or programs focused on encouraging the involvement and participation of individuals from diverse backgrounds to integrate and value their perspectives in decision-making processes. Robust processes for inclusion are a vehicle to achieving equity and diversity. Thus, in this policy, the process of inclusion is understood to be positioned at the nexus of the overarching principles of equity and diversity. Equity and diversity initiatives can be carefully structured to complement and strengthen merit-based approaches. Enhanced support and appropriate methods of evaluation that increase equity of opportunity (for example, equity in training, hiring processes, and in access to resources) provide all physicians and learners with a fair opportunity to cultivate and demonstrate their unique capabilities and strengths, and to realize their full potential. Promoting equity and diversity fosters a just professional and learning culture that cultivates the diverse perspectives within it, reflects the communities physicians serve, and promotes professional excellence and social accountability as means to better serve patients. An increasingly diverse medical population provides opportunities for underserviced populations to receive better access to medical services and bolsters the management of clinical cases through the contribution of different points of view. Evidence indicates that when demonstrably more equity and diversity in medicine is achieved, physicians experience greater career satisfaction, health and wellness, and a sense of solidarity with the profession while patients experience improved care and a more responsive and adaptable health care system. Evidence further indicates that realizing the full potential of human capital is an essential driver of innovation and health system development. This policy is consistent with the CMA Code of Ethics and Professionalism and the CMA Charter of Shared Values and strives to be in the spirit of the recommendations relevant to health made in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The policy is informed by a body of evidence described in the accompanying Background document that includes a Glossary of terms. GUIDING PRINCIPLES A clear set of principles and commitments to improving equity and diversity demonstrates that we hold ourselves accountable to recognizing and challenging behaviours, practices, and conditions that hinder equity and diversity and to promoting behaviours, practices, and conditions that will achieve these goals. Achieving equity in medicine Equity refers to the treatment of people that recognizes and is inclusive of their differences by ensuring that every individual is provided with what they need to thrive, which may differ from the needs of others. It is a state in which all members of society have similar chances to become socially active, politically influential, and economically productive through the absence of avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people (defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically). Equity in the medical profession is achieved when every person has the opportunity to realize their full potential to create and sustain a career without being unfairly impeded by discrimination or any other characteristic-related bias or barrier. To achieve this, physicians must 1) recognize that structural inequities that privilege some at the expense of others exist in training and practice environments and 2) commit to reducing these by putting in place measures that make recruitment, retention, and advancement opportunities more accessible, desirable, and achievable. To that end, physicians must apply evidence-based strategies and support applied research into the processes that lead to inequities in training and practice environments. Fostering diversity in medicine Diversity refers to observable and non-observable characteristics which are constructed—and sometimes chosen—by individuals, groups, and societies to identify themselves (e.g., age, culture, religion, indigeneity, ethnicity, language, gender, sexuality, health, ability, socio-economic and family status, geography). The barriers to diversity in medicine are broad and systemic. Individuals and groups with particular characteristics can be excluded from participation based on biases or barriers. Even when they are included, they are often not able to use the full range of their skills and competencies. As with improving equity, the benefits of a more diverse medical profession include improved health outcomes, system-level adaptation, and physician health and wellness. To achieve these benefits, the medical profession must become increasingly diverse by striving to create, foster, and retain physicians and learners who reflect the diversity of the communities they serve and it must be responsive to the evolving (physical, emotional, cultural, and socioeconomic) needs of patients. Promoting a just professional and learning culture Physicians value learning and understand that it reflects, and is informed by, the professional culture of medicine. A just professional and learning culture is one of shared respect, shared knowledge, shared opportunity, and the experience of learning together. An environment that is physically and psychologically safe by reducing bias, discrimination, and harassment is critical to creating and sustaining such a culture. To achieve this, the profession must strive to integrate cultural safety by fostering and adopting practices of cultural competence and cultural humility. Physicians and leaders across all levels of training, practice, and health settings, and through formal and informal mentorships, must also promote and foster environments where diverse perspectives are solicited, heard, and appreciated. In this way, diverse individuals are both represented in the professional culture of medicine and actively involved in decision-making processes in all aspects of the profession. Fostering solidarity within the profession Solidarity means standing alongside others by recognizing our commonality, shared vulnerabilities and goals, and interdependence. It is enacted through collective action and aims. To show solidarity within the profession means making a personal commitment to recognizing others as our equals, cultivating respectful, open, and transparent dialogue and relationships, and role modelling this behaviour. Solidarity enables each of us to support our colleagues in meeting their individual and collective responsibilities and accountabilities to their patients and to their colleagues. Being accountable to these goals and to each other means taking action to ensure the principles that guide the medical profession are followed, responding justly and decisively when they are not, and continually searching for ways to improve the profession through practice-based learning and experience. Promoting professional excellence and social accountability Engaged and informed research and action on equity and diversity is critical to promoting professional excellence and social accountability in medicine as means to better serve patients. Professional excellence is a fundamental commitment of the profession to contribute to the development of and innovation in medicine and society through clinical practice, research, teaching, mentorship, leadership, quality improvement, administration, and/or advocacy on behalf of the profession or the public. Social accountability is a pillar of the commitment to professional excellence by focusing those efforts on fostering competence to address the evolving health needs of the patients and communities physicians are mandated to serve. For care to be socially accountable, and to achieve professional excellence, physicians must provide leadership through advocacy and through action: advocacy about the benefits of addressing equity and diversity to achieve equitable health outcomes; and actions to be responsive to patient, community, and population health needs through high-quality evidence-based patient care. RECOMMENDATIONS To accomplish equity and diversity in medicine, organizational and institutional changes will be required across many facets of operation and culture including leadership, education, data gathering/analysis, and continuous improvement through feedback and evaluation of policies and programs. To achieve this, the CMA seeks to provide direction on broad action areas that require further specific actions and development measures in specific recruitment, training, and practice contexts. The CMA recommends: All medical organizations, institutions, and physician leaders: A. Take a leadership role in achieving greater equity and diversity by co-creating policies and processes that apply to them, and the individuals therein, in an accountable and transparent manner. This includes: 1. Identifying and reducing structural inequities, barriers, and biases that exist in training and practice environments to create fair opportunities for all physicians and learners; and providing the appropriate platforms, resources, and training necessary to do so to effect change collaboratively. 2. Practicing and promoting cultural safety, cultural competence, and cultural humility. 3. Providing training on implicit bias, allyship, cultural safety, cultural competence, and cultural humility, structural competence, and the value of diversity in improving health outcomes. 4. Ensuring a process is in place to review all workforce and educational policies, procedures, and practices toward considering their impact on equity and diversity. Areas of consideration include (but are not limited to) recruitment, promotion, pay, leave of absence, parental leave, resources and support, and working/learning conditions and accommodations. 5. Ensuring safe, appropriate, and effective avenues exist for those who may have experienced discrimination, harassment, or abuse in training and practice environments to report these events outside of their supervisory/promotional chain. Those experiencing these events should also be able to seek counselling without the fear of negative consequences. 6. Working towards creating and appropriately funding equity and diversity Chairs, Committees, or Offices with a mandate to investigate and address issues in equity and diversity. 7. Promoting and enabling formal and informal mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for historically under-represented groups. B. Encourage the collection and use of data related to equity and diversity through research and funding, and, specifically, review their data practices to ensure: 1. Historically under-represented groups are meaningfully engaged through the co-development of data practices. 2. Data regarding the representation of under-represented groups is being systematically and appropriately collected and analyzed. 3. Information collected is used to review and inform internal policy and practice with the aim of reducing or eliminating system-level drivers of inequity. 4. Findings relating to these data are made accessible. C. Support equity and diversity in recruitment, hiring, selection, appointment, and promotion practices by: 1. Requesting and participating in training to better understand approaches and strategies to promote equity and diversity, including implicit bias and allyship training that highlights the roles and responsibilities of all members of the community with emphasis on self-awareness, cultural safety, and sensitivity to intersectionalities. 2. Studying organizational environments and frameworks and identifying and addressing hiring procedures, especially for leadership and executive positions, that perpetuate institutional inequities and power structures that privilege or disadvantage people. 3. Adopting explicit criteria to recruit inclusive leaders and to promote qualified candidates from historically under-represented groups in selection processes. Additional recommendations for institutions providing medical education and training: 1. Establishing programs that espouse cultural safety, cultural competence, and cultural humility. 2. Encouraging all instructors develop competencies including non-discriminatory and non-stereotyping communication, awareness of intersectionality, and cultural safety. 3. Providing training programs, at the undergraduate level onwards, that include awareness and education around stereotypes (gender and otherwise), intersectionalities, and the value of diversity in improving health outcomes. 4. Providing diversity mentorship programs that aim to support diverse candidates through education and training to graduation. 5. Promoting and funding student-led programs that create safe and positive spaces for students and principles of equity and diversity. 6. Ensuring recruitment strategies and admission frameworks in medical schools incorporate more holistic strategies that recognize barriers faced by certain populations to enable a more diverse pool of candidates to apply and be fairly evaluated. 7. Developing learning communities (such as undergraduate pipelines described in the background document) to promote careers in medicine as a viable option for individuals from historically under-represented communities. Approved by the CMA Board of Directors December 2019
Documents
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Family physicians and hospital affiliation

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1502
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC04-36
The Canadian Medical Association calls on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together with the Association and its divisions and affiliates to develop initiatives that are incentive based to encourage family physicians to retain hospital affiliation and provide hospital care in supporting the provision of the full continuum of primary care to patients.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Physician practice/ compensation/ forms
Resolution
GC04-36
The Canadian Medical Association calls on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together with the Association and its divisions and affiliates to develop initiatives that are incentive based to encourage family physicians to retain hospital affiliation and provide hospital care in supporting the provision of the full continuum of primary care to patients.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association calls on the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together with the Association and its divisions and affiliates to develop initiatives that are incentive based to encourage family physicians to retain hospital affiliation and provide hospital care in supporting the provision of the full continuum of primary care to patients.
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The future of medicine

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy209
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2000-08-12
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
  1 document  
Policy Type
Policy document
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2000-08-12
Topics
Health systems, system funding and performance
Ethics and medical professionalism
Text
The future of medicine In 1997 the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) embarked on a study of the future of medicine. Two premises guided this activity: (1) the pace of change in the practice of medicine that physicians experienced in the last quarter of the 20th century is bound to increase in the 21st century; and (2) it is essential that the medical profession position itself to influence future developments in medical practice. In order to prepare the profession to anticipate and meet the challenges of the future, the CMA is engaged in a medium- to long-term (5–20 years) planning exercise. This policy statement summarizes the results of the first part of this exercise: working definitions of health, health care and medicine; a vision for the future of the medical profession; and the implications of this vision for the roles of physicians. This work was conducted by an expert project advisory group, which developed background papers on these topics and prepared this statement for approval by the CMA Board of Directors. Definitions Health: is a state of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. It is characterized in part by an absence of illness (a subjective experience) and disease (a pathological abnormality) that enables one to pursue major life goals and to function in personal, social and work contexts. Health care: is any activity that has as its primary objective the improvement, maintenance or support of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, as characterized by the absence of illness and disease. Medicine: is the art and science of healing. It is based on a body of knowledge, skills and practices concerned with the health and pathology of individuals and populations. The practice of medicine encompasses those health care activities that are performed by or under the direction of physicians in the service of patients, including health promotion, disease prevention, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, palliation, education and research. A vision for the future of the medical profession Medicine will continue to be a healing profession dedicated to serving humanity. Its cornerstone will continue to be the relationship of trust between the patient and the physician. It will uphold with integrity the values of respect for persons, compassion, beneficence and justice. It will strive for excellence and incorporate progress in its art and science. It will maintain high standards of ethics, clinical practice, education and research in order to serve patients. It will encourage the development of healthy communities and of practices and policies that promote the well-being of the public. It will demonstrate its capacity for societal responsibility through self-regulation and accountability. It will actively participate in decision-making regarding health and health care policy. It will guard against forces and events that may compromise its primary commitment to the well-being of patients. The roles of physicians in the future1 Although the vision and values of medicine are enduring and will remain stable, the practice environment of physicians will change as the medical profession responds to health system and societal influences. This in turn will have implications for the roles of physicians. The traditional role of physicians has been medical expert and healer. This has involved diagnosing and treating disease and other forms of illness, comforting those who cannot be cured and preventing illness through patient counselling and public-health measures. While this role will remain at the core of medical practice, the evolving context of health care requires physicians to assume additional roles to support their primary role. The CMA proposes the following roles as essential to the future practice of medicine (cf. Fig. 1 for their interrelationship). Although no physician will function in all roles simultaneously, they should all have the fundamental competencies to participate in each of these roles. -Medical expert and healer: Physicians have always been recognized for their role as medical expert and healer; it is the defining nature of their practice and derives from the broad knowledge base of medicine and its application through a combination of art and science. This is the foundation for continued physician leadership in the provision of medical and health care in the future. -Professional: There must be renewed efforts to reaffirm the principles of the medical profession, including upholding its unique body of knowledge and skills; maintenance of high standards of practice; and commitment to the underlying values of caring, service and compassion. The medical profession of the future must continue to develop standards of care with ongoing opportunities for continued assessment of competency in order to remain a credible, self-regulated discipline worthy of public respect and trust. -Communicator: Increasing emphasis will be placed upon the ability to gather and communicate medical information in a compassionate and caring fashion, to enter into a partnership with patients when organizing care plans and to provide important information through counselling and the promotion of health. As always, the patient–physician relationship will remain paramount, with its essential features of compassion, confidentiality, honesty and respect. -Scholar: Scholarship involves the creation of new knowledge (research), its uniform application (clinical practice) and its transfer to others (education). It is this strong association with the science of medicine and physicians’ willingness to embrace the scholarship of their practice that is closely linked to their roles of medical experts and professionals. -Collaborator: Health care services will increasingly be provided by interdisciplinary teams throughout the continuum of care from health promotion activities to the management of acute life-threatening disorders to the delivery of palliative care. In the role of collaborator, physicians recognize the essential functions of other health care workers and respect unique provider contributions in patient-centred health care delivery. -Advocate: As the health sector becomes increasingly complex and interdependent with other sectors of society, it will be essential for physicians to play a greater role as health advocates. This may pertain to advocacy for individual and family health promotion in the practice environment; it may also relate to the promotion of improved health at the broader community level. -Manager: In order to provide quality care, physicians of the future must be effective resource managers at the individual practice level, at the health care facility level and as part of the wider health care system. In order to fulfil these roles and participate in communities as integral members of society, physicians need to lead balanced lives. Physicians may sometimes experience conflicts among these roles. The CMA Code of Ethics specifies the basic principles of professional ethics for dealing with such conflicts. Conclusion The CMA has developed this vision for the future of medicine and the future roles of physicians to assist individual physicians and medical organizations to anticipate and prepare for the challenges of the next 20 years. The vision provides the profession with criteria for evaluating proposed changes in how medicine is practised and reaffirms the core values of medicine that must be upheld in whatever system emerges. The CMA invites other organizations, nonmedical as well as medical, to comment on the contents of this statement and its implications for health and health care. The CMA welcomes opportunities to dialogue with others on how the health care system can be improved for the benefit of future patients and society in general. 1The section is indebted to the work of the Educating Future Physicians for Ontario (EFPO) project supported by the Associated Medical Services group, the Ontario faculties of medicine and the Ontario Ministry of Health, and the Canadian Medical Education Directions for Specialists 2000 (CanMEDs 2000) project of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Documents
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Initiatives to reduce wait times

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1530
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC04-15
The Canadian Medical Association, consistent with A Prescription for Sustainability, advocates to reduce wait times through the following initiatives: a) development of pan-Canadian wait time benchmarks based on available evidence; b) a network of regional registries and referral programs for specialized care; c) streamlined referral for investigation and specialty consultations; and d) Canadian Health Access Fund designed to support inter-jurisdictional portability of care.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health human resources
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC04-15
The Canadian Medical Association, consistent with A Prescription for Sustainability, advocates to reduce wait times through the following initiatives: a) development of pan-Canadian wait time benchmarks based on available evidence; b) a network of regional registries and referral programs for specialized care; c) streamlined referral for investigation and specialty consultations; and d) Canadian Health Access Fund designed to support inter-jurisdictional portability of care.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association, consistent with A Prescription for Sustainability, advocates to reduce wait times through the following initiatives: a) development of pan-Canadian wait time benchmarks based on available evidence; b) a network of regional registries and referral programs for specialized care; c) streamlined referral for investigation and specialty consultations; and d) Canadian Health Access Fund designed to support inter-jurisdictional portability of care.
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National wait-time monitoring system

https://policybase.cma.ca/en/permalink/policy1532
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC04-17
The Canadian Medical Association advocates for the implementation of a national wait-time monitoring system for a broad range of medical conditions and diagnostic services.
Policy Type
Policy resolution
Last Reviewed
2017-03-04
Date
2004-08-18
Topics
Ethics and medical professionalism
Health systems, system funding and performance
Resolution
GC04-17
The Canadian Medical Association advocates for the implementation of a national wait-time monitoring system for a broad range of medical conditions and diagnostic services.
Text
The Canadian Medical Association advocates for the implementation of a national wait-time monitoring system for a broad range of medical conditions and diagnostic services.
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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.
Documents
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19 records – page 1 of 2.