BCMA Board member responds

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 55, No. 3, April 2013, Pages 136-137 Letters

I would like to respond to Dr Jim Bus­ser’s letter published this month and to the letter by Dr Busser and Dr Webb published in the January-February issue [Rebooting the BCMA. BCMJ 2013;55(1):10]. 

In their letters, Dr Busser and Dr Webb are asking you to vote for two proposed bylaw changes that, in my personal view, will hurt the Board’s ability to fairly represent you, the member.

One change that is proposed is a drastically smaller board. One elected member per health authority region means directors will be less accessible to members and the Board will not be representative of the range of views from our communities around the pro­vince. In this case, smaller is not better.

A second bylaw amendment would remove all but two of our statutory committees from the protection of the Bylaws. Tactically this is not a wise move, with a pending election and ne­gotiations with government coming up.

There is always room for improvement when it comes to governance, and the Board is continually taking steps in this regard. Let’s talk to each other about ideas for proactive change. As a big, complex organization we need to do this methodically, in consultation and with a full understanding of potential consequences. Three years ago, members considered a reorganization plan that was more broadly supported but did not receive the necessary 75% support of the members. We will continue to explore these ideas in a thorough and analytical way.

I’d like to address Dr Busser’s criticisms of the Board. As a comparative­ly new Board member I am ex­tremely impressed by the work of the Board on behalf of our members. I always feel that I am able to provide my views—representing the physicians in my district—in vigorous and respectful debate. 

Dr Busser refers to the way the Board has handled uncommitted re­serves of money. Many members  re­cent­ly attended a Board education session on financial reporting for non­profits facilitated by KPMG. We were given an explanation of how to read a balance sheet and nonprofit accounts. The example we worked from was the BCMA Annual Report. KPMG complimented us on our sound financial management. The reserve has been maintained thus far to meet the possible demands relating to negotiations and court cases, as part of due diligence. 

The Audit and Finance Committee will be reviewing next steps on this matter, and will report back to the Board with recommendations. To suggest that the Board is holding back a decrease in members’ dues because of a lack of checks and balances is completely wrong. In fact, it is the other way around.
—Ralph Jones, MBChB
BCMA Board of Directors
District 7 (Chilliwack)

Ralph Jones, MD. BCMA Board member responds. BCMJ, Vol. 55, No. 3, April, 2013, Page(s) 136-137 - Letters.

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Dr Busser & Dr Webb says: reply

Dear readers,

Dr Jones, in his reply, stands with a BCMA board lost in its own reflection.

He also happens to be among three Past Presidents of the Society of General Practitioners all serving, together with his SGP President and one other, on the boards of both the BCMA and the SGP. One can well ask for whom he is replying.

Why will he not trust a few more committees to be regulated by a balanced and democratically elected BCMA board? What steps can he show the board to have "continually taken" to reform governance across five years of neglect and inaction? Does he truly mean to credit the state of the Association's reserves to its board, even after reporting its need to be educated on how to read basic financial statements?

Our current state of solvency is, in our view, no credit to board initiatives. Rather, it is in spite of them. Competent boards should not have to allocate extra reserves toward litigated breaches of contract with their own members.

He suggests that the criticisms we have offered are "completely wrong". They aren't.

I started on the board in 2008, and Charles in 2009 … long enough to discern root causes for the ongoing dysfunction.

'Let's talk" suggests Dr Jones, notwithstanding that he freshly – as part of a board supermajority – voted down our proposal to convene a Telephone Town Hall. Currently, the board grants us all just one, poorly-attended Annual General Meeting, and only after referenda and elections have concluded. No wonder it struggles to keep a quorum of 50.

Our effort to work through the rhetoric is at

The bylaws referendum offers two reforms by which to escape years of fog. We hope members will support them.

Jim Busser
Charles Webb

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