Annual Business Meeting and General Assembly
Saturday, 1 June 2013
Pan Pacific Hotel, Vancouver
Like last year, the Annual Business Meeting and General Assembly was held at the Pan Pacific Hotel on downtown Vancouver’s waterfront. Held 1 June 2013, the meeting was chaired by Dr Granger Avery.
In her brief report to the assembly, outgoing president Dr Shelley Ross acknowledged divisions in the profession (divisions that were occasionally apparent during the meeting) and summarized the many outreach activities she had undertaken during her year as president, including meeting hundreds of members all over the province; participating in panels; meeting MLAs, stakeholder groups, medical students, and residents; and numerous other activities. She received an appreciative standing ovation from the assembly, which was followed by Dr Erik Patterson thanking her for coming to his town, Creston—the first time to his knowledge that a BCMA president had ever done so.
In the course of the morning and early afternoon, a number of issues were directed toward the chairs of the various reporting committees and elected officers.
Health effects of noise
Dr John O’Brien-Bell requested an update on the issue of noise. He first raised the issue at last year’s meeting, and a motion was passed requesting that the BCMA Board investigate the issue. The matter had been forwarded to the Council on Health Promotion, so Dr Bill Mackie answered that they had had an expert from UBC present to the committee. He explained that noise can have both acoustic and cardiovascular effects, in addition to being an annoyance. The committee will be taking a resolution to the CMA in August recommending that Canada follow the example of Europe by using noise mapping as one part of the solution to this problem.
Dr O’Brien-Bell also raised the issue of recent changes to the Limitation Act, which governs the time limits someone has to sue and extends the maximum to 15 years. CEO Allan Seckel explained that in light of this change, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC decided that physicians must keep their medical records for 17 years. He suggested that any questions be directed to the College.
Dr Wang dispute
Dr Zafar Essak raised the issue of the Dr Carolyn Wang dispute and suggested that the BCMA Finance Committee set aside $1 million to $4 million to resolve the issue. Members had no appetite for such a move and no motion was passed. Dr Essak also asked what the BCMA had learned from the experience, to which Mr Seckel responded that there had been many positive changes as a result, including opening up the nominations process, more explicitly calling out to members to get involved, and increasing transparency about nomination processes by providing more information on the BCMA website. Mr Seckel suggested that these and other less tangible changes demonstrate that the BCMA Board is functioning more efficiently.
Dr David Brabyn proposed a motion that the BCMA include membership dues for the Society of General Practitioners and the Society of Specialist Physicians and Surgeons as a mandatory part of BCMA annual dues. Later, Dr Damien Maharaj argued that members receive limited value from being a CMA member, and he does not appreciate that when he joins the BCMA he must join the CMA as well. Both issues were vigorously debated, with members taking the floor to contextualize the current systems and weigh pros and cons. It was clear that these are important issues to members, but too complex and far reaching to be determined during either the Business Meeting or General Assembly, so the motions regarding SGP and SSPS were referred to the Board.
Dr O’Brien-Bell presented the motion “That the BCMA examine the increasing practice of the legal profession and ICBC limiting medicolegal fees to those listed in the BCMA Guide to Fees.” The topic generated some discussion and was acknowledged to be an important issue, and it was concluded that changing this practice is within the power of the profession, and that the issue should be referred to the Board with a request for a Tariff Committee review.
Influenza mask policy
Dr Maharaj reminded members that during the latest flu season the BCMA supported the provincial health officer’s recommendation that if health care workers didn’t receive the influenza vaccine they should wear a mask during patient encounters. He inquired as to how the BCMA formulated this policy, noting that members were not consulted and may have objections. Dr Ross explained that the BCMA was not involved in the policy making, but felt that as a physician group it was appropriate to accept the role of the provincial health officer and thus his recommendation, rather than get into a debate and question how he came to that decision. She suggested that the process would likely unfold differently and be more consultative in the future.
Dr Mark Corbett, chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, highlighted the BCMA’s current financial position. Though the Committee always plans for a balanced budget, at the end of 2012 the BCMA had a $2.9 million surplus. He explained that this level of surplus was within accounting norms, but that the Committee was undertaking measures to improve their forecasting on both sides of the ledger. The financial statements were accepted without debate, and KPMG LLP was reappointed as auditor for the fifth year running. The Finance Committee moved that there be no increase in dues, which was carried. Dr John Turner asked whether the Committee had considered returning some of the surplus to members, and Dr Corbett acknowledged that they had, but decided instead to hold the funds for use in 2013 because the amount that they could return would be marginal.
Governance and nominations
Dr Robin Saunders’ first duty of the day as chair of Governance and Nominations Committee was to hold elections for three members-at-large to the Audit and Finance Committee. Nominees, who each gave a 2-minute speech, were Ms Michelle Chiu (a medical student member) and Drs Mark Corbett, Michael Curry, David Jones, and Donald MacFadyen. Ms Chiu, who has an impressive background in finance, as well as Drs Mark Corbett and Michael Curry, were elected.
One of the major changes is a new process to the governance and nominations system: the positions of all committee chairs for which the incumbents have held for six consecutive years (or more) are now referred for nomination, with existing chairs being eligible to apply. Dr Saunders reported that they had received more than 350 applications for membership and chair positions. The BCMA website now lists committees that have openings (three were listed at the time of writing), and there is a process by which members can advise the BCMA that they’re interested in contributing their skill.
BCMA elected officers 2013–14
President: Dr William Cunningham
President-Elect: Dr William Cavers
Chair of the General Assembly: Dr Trina Larsen Soles
Honorary Secretary Treasure: Dr Lloyd Oppel
Chair of the Board of Directors: Dr Carole Williams
Excerpts from President Cunningham’s lunchtime address
For the last 14 years my family and I have been in Mill Bay just north of Victoria in the Cowichan Valley, where I did my CCFP in emergency medicine. Even though I fell into emergency medicine, I can’t think of another discipline better suited for me.
“I am fortunate to work in an area of health care and in a region of the province that sees first-hand the benefits of the collaborative programs between BCMA and the government.
“One of the interesting things about working in an ED is that in many respects it is the proverbial canary in the coal mine. The types of cases you get in the emergency room are a fantastic indicator of the general health of any community.
“If the ER continually sees patients troubled by mental health issues, patients who cannot manage their complex conditions, or who have congestive heart failure or emphysema, then it’s pretty easy to figure out that the community is in crisis and medical care isn’t working.
“My community is extremely fortunate. I see fewer and fewer of these cases precisely because our primary care system has been bolstered by the collaborative programs of the GPSC and the Shared Care Committee. Cowichan jumped at the chance for a division of family practice back in October of 2009, and was one of the prototypes. It is a prime example of how local physician input and direction has impact and solves problems. This program and others continue to be amazing and help patients in need all over the province.
“As well, there has been a great start in improvements to the specialist care system because of the implementation of the SSC’s Quality and Innovation projects.”
. . .
“My role as president is to be your representative, a grassroots physician who has been given a great privilege. The work of an emergency physician challenges you to think on your feet, be open to extreme possibilities, and to sometimes be brave enough to try the untested. This is what I hope to do this year as your president.
“My goal is simple: to work with you, to support you, and to challenge you. I will work with you in the discussions I’ll be having with physicians around the province. I’d like to hear what’s working, what’s not, and how the BCMA can help.
“I will support you as we begin the negotiations process, as we continue to build a good relationship with a new government, and as we continue making inroads with health authorities.
“I will challenge you to be united as we journey through the negotiations process. And I will challenge you to give of yourselves, so that those less fortunate are helped.
“Above all, I will be listening to you. And finally, even though you all have my support, I too will need your support as we move forward.”
—William Cunningham, MD
BCMA Excellence in Health Promotion
Individual award: Dr Mark Gilbert
Non-profit award: BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS)
Dr David M. Bachop Awards
Silver Medal in General Practice
Dr Emma Galloway
Gold Medal for Distinguished Medial Service
Dr William Cavers
Dr Cam Coady Award
Dr Susan Burgess
Dr Don Rix Award for Physician Leadership
Dr Mark Schonfeld
BCMA Silver Medal of Service Recipients
Dr Derryck Smith
Dr Brian Winsby
Dr Marco Terwiel
CMA Honorary Membership Award
Dr James Bentz
Dr Clive Duncan
Dr Robert Hurley
Dr Maureen Piercey
This article is Mr Draper’s opinion and has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.