2007 BCMA Annual Meeting--Old issues bog down meeting

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 49 , No. 7 , September 2007 , Pages 377-381 Clinical Articles

22 June 2007
Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel

The 2007 BCMA Annual General Meeting was a bit of the new, a lot of the old, and then, like a plant wilting in the sun, it flopped over, unable to sustain itself as members slipped out the door.

Not all old news is bad news, of course, and Dr Don Rix, chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, was able to replay a happy tune (this year trumpeted by a few of his friends from the brass section of the Vancouver Opera): BCMA finances remain sound, and the committee recommended that there be no dues increase for the third year in a row.

During the question period following the Finance Committee report, a motion from the 2005 AGM that the salaries of BCMA executive staff be made public was brought up again. Unlike publicly traded companies, societies (the BCMA falls under the Society Act) are not required to publish executive salary information; the release—or non-release—of this information is determined by the bylaws of the association. BCMA Bylaw 18.3 does not allow for that financial information to be released. 

District 1 delegate Dr Bill Cavers assured members that the executive compensation is not out of line. The BCMA Board regularly receives a report on the executive director that contains a performance evaluation, salary, and comparative salaries for similar positions in similar and dissimilar organizations. The Board received such a report the day before the AGM.

The Finance Committee report concluded with the election of three members-at-large for the 2007/2008 Audit and Finance Committee. Of the slate of Drs Dennis Karpiak, Donald Rix, John Turner, and David Jones, Drs Rix, Turner, and Jones were elected. See the article on page 380 by Dr Rix for more on BCMA finances.

Dr Chris Sedergreen from Anmore then moved the following three motions, which he explained were intended to increase transparency of the Board:

• That the General Assembly insists that each of the AGM motions passed by members of the General Assembly and the Business Session, while not binding on the Board, be respected in their intent and execution.

• That duly passed AGM motions shall not be altered through amendments by the Board in their intent or substance.

• That motions shall be considered and discussed and reported to the membership.
The first two motions were passed easily and without lengthy debate, but the third motion was ruled out of order, as it is already contained in the BCMA bylaws.

Dr Arun Garg, chair of the Governance and Restructuring Committee, gave a presentation outlining the committee’s general recommendations, which boil down to separating governance from representation. The current governance structure requires the Board to both govern and represent, frequently putting Board members in awkward positions. The proposed structure suggests a large representative assembly (RA, with 81 elected positions), meeting twice a year, and a much smaller board (with 15 members instead of 40), meeting 10 times per year. 
Both Dr Bill Rife, Society of General Practitioners president, and Dr Jon Slater, Society of Specialist Physicians past president, spoke of numerous concerns regarding the proposed governance model. The two societies appear to share the concern that the proposal shifts them from the Board of Directors to the RA, and that their now-strong voices will be muffled. Others spoke in favor of the new governance model; a referendum on this constitutional change is expected in spring 2008.

And then, in what would prove to be the beginning of the end for the meeting, Dr Victor Dirnfeld proposed the following motion: “That the General Assembly deplores the Board policies that would block, suppress, restrict, or undermine the open communication between directors and members and insists that the Board remove restrictive policies and practices, including that in the Code of Conduct, with respect to the communication of alternative viewpoints within the Association by Board members.” Numerous Board members considered the motion a vote of nonconfidence in the Board, and removed themselves not only from the debate and the vote, but from the room itself. 

The motion was debated and revised (notably, by softening the word “deplores”), but by the time the vote came, the quorum of 50 was lost, and the assembly was not able to vote on the motion or conduct any further business.

Award Recipients

Dr David M. Bachop Silver Medal in General Medical Practice
Dr Siobhan Key

Dr David M. Bachop Gold Medal for Distinguished Medical Service
Dr Larry Collins

BCMA Excellence in Health Promotion
INDIVIDUAL: Wendy CreelmanProject Leader, In Motion
NON-PROFIT: BC Ministry of Environment Air Quality Health Index
CORPORATE: Telus Tour for the Cure 

CMA Honorary Membership Award
Dr Robert Baird
Dr Brian Dixon-Warren
Dr Barrie Phillips

Dr Cam Coady Award
Dr John Blatherwick

BCMA Silver Medal of Service
Dr Arun Garg
Dr Brian T.B. Taylor
Mr Ben Trevino

BCMA Scholarships
Ms Alison Lee 
Mr Andrew Parkin

BCMA financial snapshot 2006

You will have received the 2006 Audited Financial Statements in the Annual Report.

For those of you who were unable to attend the AGM and hear firsthand our financial report from the podium, here is a summary of the financial activities and results from 2006. 

I am pleased to report that the Association is financially fit and well and in a strong position to support the work of your president and Board of Directors. Each year there is a rigorous budgeting process that ensures that there are sufficient funds to carry out the activities and work planned for the following year. With the support of the BCMA staff, the Audit and Finance Committee oversees this process and monitors adherence to the year’s financial plan, reporting its status regularly to the Board throughout the year.

Looking back to the 1990s and earlier, members paid extra levies as well as dues increases to cover the costs of negotiating and related activities. It was not a fun time. With the due diligence and careful planning that is exercised each year by the Audit and Finance Committee, Board, and management, we have built up a reserve to see the Association through the difficult times. This makes my job easier. 

We are proud that we were able to recommend no dues increase for the third year in a row. 
The sources of funding that provide for the member services, committee work, and programs are as follows:


Membership dues of $9 207 487 were collected from 10 562 active members in 2006, compared with $9 067 620 from 10 249 members in 2005. The growth in number of members has slowed as physicians retire and there are not enough graduating students/transfer-in members to replace them.

Other sources of revenue include the insurance and benefit programs, interest and investments, and rental property. [see Income figure]

The BCMA investment portfolio is largely made up of bond funds, providing the Association with consistent and conservative income levels. 

Expenditures [see figure]

In 2006, the total expenditures were $1 235 7842, compared with $11 203 707 in 2005, a 10% increase or $1 154 135. The expenditures included the following:
• Committee and Board meetings. (Many of you are voluntary participants on active committees such as COHP, CHEP, and CPAC.) 
• Completion of the overhead study.
• Departmental and administrative costs of running the Association.
• Production of the BC Medical Journal (net cost).
• Delivery of the insurance and benefit programs.
• Negotiations. (Costs were much lower than budgeted due to the excellent work of the Negotiations Department and Negotiations Committee.) 
• Funding for bursaries for UBC medical students as a joint initiative with the CMA Medical Foundation. (The individual bursaries were increased to $1500 per student this year).
• Donation to the Benevolent Fund to support physicians in dire financial straits ($50 000).
• BCMA’s share for the newly established Physician Health Program of BC ($365 859).

Bottom line

In 2006, the BCMA had an excess of revenue over expenditures of $1 356 639. Some of these funds were allocated to support the future of our medical students by increasing funds for student bursaries and internships. Fifty-four bursaries were awarded to UBC medical students by the BCMA and CMA. In addition, the property and equipment replacement fund was increased. Remaining funds reside in the General Fund, totalling $4 019 825. Although this seems a substantial amount, in reality this is equivalent to about 4.5 months of operational expenses. The general guideline for organizations similar to ours is to hold up to a year’s equivalent of operational expenses.

Your Audit and Finance Committee and BCMA management team are committed to ensuring that the finances of the BCMA are well managed and secure so that the Association may continue to provide services and programs well into the future.

Jay Draper, Donald Rix, MD,. 2007 BCMA Annual Meeting--Old issues bog down meeting. BCMJ, Vol. 49, No. 7, September, 2007, Page(s) 377-381 - Clinical Articles.

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