The Canadian Medical Association: From Profit to Equity
Posted Aug 20 2012 7:13pm
The recent annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association was remarkable for a number of reasons. Most notably, for its explicit focus on health equity and the social determinants of health . Though the link between health and factors like education, housing and income has been well-established for some time, never before has the medical association so openly acknowledged it - and they've done so with great gusto. The Yellowknife meeting featured a keynote address by Dr. Micheal Marmot, author of the seminal Whitehall Paper on social inequity and health, and marked the release of the CMA's own study linking declining income to failing health. What is equally remarkable is how far and how quickly the organization shifted from a 'pro-profit to 'pro-equity’ agenda.
From 2007 to 2009, physicians greeted BC's Dr. Brian Day and Quebec's Dr. Robert Oulette as successive CMA Presidents. Their terms marked a period in the organization's history of an equity-averse voice in health care reform. When Dr. Day, assumed the organization's presidency he did so as the founder of the for-profit Cambie Surgical Centre. If that sounds familiar it’s because he's in the news again, this time for violating the Canada Health Act and continuing to do so in defiance of a court order . Under his leadership, the CMA pushed for the expansion of private insurance into essential and core health service delivery, despite evidence that doing so would decrease access to services, especially for the most marginalized. His successor, owner of a chain of private diagnostic centres, continued this very public advocacy for more of the same.