MD MPH FRCPC
Candidate for President-elect of the Canadian Medical Association
My vision is for all physicians in Canada to have the resources, support, respect, and autonomy they need to thrive in their medical practice and to find joy in their work.
This is vital to achieve the sustainable health care system that physicians and all Canadians want and deserve, in a society where every individual has an equal opportunity to be healthy.
Thinking about pursuing my vision, or the goals in CMA’s Impact 2040 strategy, or any improvement in health care right now, can feel hopeless when you consider what physicians and their patients are experiencing. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, our health care systems are experiencing overwhelming challenges. Patients are facing unreasonably long wait times or can’t access the care they need. Many physicians don’t have the resources they need to do their jobs well, and so it is no surprise the profession is experiencing record levels of burnout and distress.
While the pandemic revealed many vulnerabilities in the system, physicians know most of these issues long pre-date COVID-19.
In my work in public health, I have witnessed the barriers and inequities to achieving good health and well-being. In my current role as Chief Medical Officer with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, I have a front row seat to the barriers physicians must navigate to provide the level of care their patients deserve. Growing up in the home of a rural family doctor, I saw first hand the unique pressures of rural medicine. And in my own practice in community clinics and acute care, I also experience these same challenges that are being seen across the country.
"I believe there is major opportunity in this crisis."
While all of this can feel daunting, I am an optimist. I believe there is major opportunity in this crisis. Despite all of the challenges, I am inspired every day as I see physicians’ dedication to providing exceptional care, their ingenuity to develop creative solutions, and their willingness to collaborate on improving the system. It couldn’t be clearer that physicians need to play a central role in leading this change.
This is the time for physicians to seize the moment and make the breakthrough improvements that are so sorely needed. The CMA is uniquely positioned to advocate and lead this work. Now is the time to take action – Canadians are listening.
As someone who spent the last 2 years speaking to the media and advocating directly to politicians every day, I know how hard the job of CMA President is. My intention would be to continue the relentless advocacy of the CMA. I would use the skills and experience I gained throughout the pandemic to build on the leadership of current and past presidents Dr. Alika Lafontaine and Dr. Katharine Smart, who have so capably fought for improvements at every opportunity. I would be guided by the priorities and concerns of physicians, finding ways to routinely engage CMA members to shape the work of their national medical association, particularly those members who have traditionally been underrepresented in the profession and in medical leadership.
You have watched me navigate some very challenging communication and political circumstances. I would be so proud to use these abilities to advocate for you, for the CMA, and for all doctors in Canada as we seize this moment to create a better future for physicians, and for everyone in Canada.
My Platform - How Do We Get There
The Crisis of Physician Burnout
What I’m hearing from colleagues throughout the health care system is that the largest challenge facing our profession is burnout. I am a public health physician and that is a powerful lens for seeing the world. But I am also a clinician, and in particular a clinician who has experienced burnout. I want my colleagues and the public to see physician burnout as I do… as a public health crisis. By helping patients and governments understand the profound impact that burnout is having on our profession, we can help them understand that their health is interdependent with ours. But action must follow understanding. We have solutions to manage burnout and more importantly to create work environments that prevent burnout from occurring in the first place. Solutions include many of the strategic pillars being promoted by the CMA to:
invest in inter-professional teams
reduce administrative burden and let physicians focus on caring for patients
transform medical culture to prioritize wellness and promote equity, diversity, and inclusion in every aspect of our work and team
embrace innovative and bold changes to health system policy, structure, and remuneration
invest in expanded training programs that focus on excellence in education and student wellness
"I want my colleagues and the public to see physician burnout as I do… as a public health crisis."
A Trusted Scientific Voice for Canadians
If I have learned one thing from this pandemic, it’s the importance of having trusted independent scientific voices available to Canadians.
At a time where many Canadians do not trust our governments to be sources of trusted information and where all Canadians are being bombarded with misinformation, these voices are critical.
The CMA is uniquely positioned to be that trusted scientific voice that all Canadians can turn to and I am uniquely skilled to lead that work. And while I will work every day to foster that trust with the public, we also need to equip all physicians to know strategically how to deal with disinformation, engage in real-world advocacy, and be leaders in science communication.
If we cannot communicate effectively with the public, we will not be able to effectively fight misinformation.
To achieve this, we need to:
Create digestible education for physicians in science communication and advocacy
Train, promote, and support diverse voices to speak to and advocate alongside diverse communities
Be proactive in giving physicians the tools they need to communicate effectively so we are ready for future crises