Truly representative

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 43, No. 5, June 2001, Page 254 Editorials

Over the years the BCMA has managed to govern itself reasonably well in spite of the size of its Board of Directors. Currently there are 40 people sitting around the table who individually represent a variety of interest groups and/or geographical regions in the province. The fact that extensive agendas are usually completed by such a large group of people—all of whom have an opinion and are not afraid to state and vigorously defend it—remains a source of wonder to me. Being the survivor of countless quarterly staff meetings over the years where debates raged on for hour after mind-numbing hour over mostly administrative minutiae, I find it almost unbelievable that BCMA board meetings have been so effective and efficient. However, for various reasons it has become clear that the current board is perhaps not a truly representative one, and a governance review was undertaken a few years ago. As a result of that review we were recently mailed a governance survey to consider, fill out, and return.

The results of that survey, according to the 11 April 2001 President’s Letter, were that 88% of us felt the Board of Directors should be reduced to 20 members and a 101 member Representative Forum be created. This model seems to fit what most other provinces in Canada are doing, and this proposal will likely pass at the June 2001 Annual General Meeting. It seems to make sense that the Board of Directors will be more efficient and effective as a smaller body while still retaining its fiduciary responsibility to the membership through the association. This board will not have to be representative, but it should be composed of a wide variety of individuals from within the association. They will need to be seen as representing the whole profession and not any particular group or region, and I will be interested to see how this is accomplished. This smaller board, however, is going to be directed by a truly representative group of members from the numerous interest groups and geographical regions in BC. This group will be composed of about 101 members that will meet twice yearly to bring forward and discuss issues important to doctors in BC. It will be called a Representative Forum, and for the first time a truly representative, elected body will determine the direction of the association. This sounds wonderful on paper, and I will be watching with interest to see if this very large group of individuals can actually get significant amounts of work done. The other obvious question is whether the Board of Directors will feel responsible to carry out the wishes of the Representative Forum (as long as the wishes do not contravene any bylaws). This governance speed-bump, apparently, will be solved by including the chair of the Representative Forum on the Board of Directors and on the board’s Executive Committee.

Finally, the cost of this will likely be a 3% dues increase. A small price, I suppose, for a truly representative form of governance. The longer I think about it, the more I think I like it; I just wish I were writing about this retrospectively. Stay tuned.


James A. Wilson, MD. Truly representative. BCMJ, Vol. 43, No. 5, June, 2001, Page(s) 254 - Editorials.

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