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UPDATE: Council monitors CMA annual meeting, Aug. 21-24

Postmedia News reports, “(John Haggie), the general and vascular surgeon in Gander, N.L., is about to become a pivotal voice in a newly charged debate over health reform — one that is set against the backdrop of a federal-provincial health accord set to expire in 2014. Haggie will be officially installed next week as the new president of the country’s largest doctors’ group, when the Canadian Medical Association holds its general council meeting in St. John’s, starting Sunday.”

“Over the past year, through town hall meetings and online comments, thousands of Canadians told the doctors’ group of cancelled surgeries, of unaffordable prescription drugs and of feeling abandoned. Their views, synthesized in a report called Voices into Action, were handed over to an advisory panel, which will present its recommendations to the CMA on Monday on how to improve the system — including new options for funding it. The report is likely to add fresh fuel to the public-versus-private divide.”

But on August 11, Council of Canadians health campaigner Adrienne Silnicki wrote in her blog, “Yesterday, the Canadian Medical Association released a summary of their series of national town hall meetings, which occurred earlier this year. …The summary shows that there’s support across the country for expanding the Canada Health Act to include pharmacare and home care. There were calls across the country for federal leadership that will set national standards on continuum of care and to enforce the Canada Health Act. There were also calls across the country for recognition of the social determinants of health (environment, education, and income) and the need to address the additional challenges people living in poverty face.”

The Postmedia News article notes, “Haggie says the doctors’ group is committed to helping reform the system. Critics, however, say the CMA is trying to protect the financial interests of its members. ‘If the government says that times are tight, the doctors don’t say, ‘let’s see if we’re doing things efficiently and appropriately. It looks for other sources of cash,’ says Michael McBane, of the Canadian Health Coalition. ‘They’re turning to the private sector for more money and there are huge negative consequences, which is why Canada rejected private financing of health services many years ago.'”

Lastly, Silnicki wrote in her blog yesterday, “For those who are interested in watching some of the CMA’s AGM (General Council only), there will be parts of the meeting available for viewing online (see right hand side of page, http://www.cma.ca/gc2011). However, several days will not be videotaped including Sunday when the delegates will discuss the 2014 Health Care Accord. An additional discussion of the CHAccord will take place on the Monday however, viewing will only be permitted to members (you must be a member of your provincial/territorial medical association). …The Council of Canadians will continue to watch and report on outcomes from the CMA`s AGM as they are released.”

Silnicki’s blogs can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10045 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10025.