Special feature: Jetha “will not shy away from what needs to be said and done”

Issue: BCMJ, vol. 30, No. 6, July August 2011, Page 286 News&Notes

BCMA Annual Business Meeting and General Assembly
Saturday, 11 June 2011
Vancouver Convention Centre

2011/2012 BCMA elected officers
Dr Nasir Jetha, President
Dr Ian Gillespie, Past President
Dr Shelley Ross, President-Elect
Dr William Cunningham, 
Chair, General Assembly
Dr Mark Corbett, 
Honorary Secretary Treasurer

Award recipients

Dr Shoshauna Guilfoyle

Dr Donald Farquhar

Dr Arun Garg

Dr Gur Signh

Dr Granger Avery
Dr Robert Raine
Dr Beverley Tamboline

Non-Profit Award
BC Cancer Agency—Pap Awareness and Lace Campaign
Corporate Award
Coastal Pacific Xpress—Focus on Fitness Fridays Program

Dr Douglas Blackman
Dr Frank Buffam
Dr Simon Rabkin
Dr Andrew Seal
Dr Marco Terwiel

Thanks in part to the Canucks’ Stanley Cup Game 5 victory the night before, the BCMA Annual Business Meeting and General Assembly started with much positive energy and camaraderie at 9:30 a.m. 

Dr Mark Schonfeld, BCMA CEO, welcomed members to the meeting, and after observing a minute of silence to honor deceased members, opened the floor to nominations for chair of the Business Meeting. Dr Jim Busser nominated Dr Granger Avery, and there being no further nominations, Dr Avery was acclaimed chair.

The Meeting Standing Rules were noted by Dr Avery, and Dr Zafar Essak questioned why the Report of the Stat­utory Negotiating Committee and the President’s Report had been switch­ed from previous meetings’ agenda order. The meeting was informed that this had been done due to recent developments on the negotiations front. Dr Essak then suggested that Meeting Standing Rules #5 and #7 be separated and a motion was put forward, but after further discussion it was de­feated.

Later Dr Brad Fritz, reporting for the Statutory Negotiating Committee, stated that the situation had changed since the time of his submission of the report and proceeded to update members in an in-camera session, ensuring members that the committee would always work in the best interests of the profession. 

He advised that all physicians on bipartite committees should continue working as usual as he felt a mutual problem-solving approach was in the best interests of all. Dr Fritz informed members that, after the new Master Agreement is ratified, he and Mr Geoff Holter, BCMA chief negotiator, would be stepping down. Dr Barry Turchen, to a standing ovation, thanked Dr Fritz and Mr Holter for their dedication and commitment to members. 

Dr Ian Gillespie began his president’s report by saying how much he appreciated the hard work of the BCMA staff, giving credit to the executive committee for the smooth flow of day-to-day work. Dr Gillespie was questioned about persisting litigation matters and he responded to them in an in-camera session stating the Association has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of its members. 

In his report, Chief Executive Officer Dr Mark Schonfeld noted his upcoming retirement in January 2012, and said that while he had faced some tremendous challenges, there had never been “a dull and boring moment,” and he was lucky to have worked with such supportive and fine people. He also acknowledged the contribution of the BCMA staff stating they were the key to the Association’s success, and thanked members for his “fantastic 14 years at the BCMA.” 

To Dr Essak’s query regarding the second-last paragraph of the CEO’s report, where it was stated that staff has “doubled over the past 15 years,” Dr Schonfeld explained that this was largely due to the joint programs that the BCMA now administers with the government.

Dr Essak also asked what Dr Schon­feld meant in the statement in his report, “There is an evolutionary transformation taking place throughout Canada in our health care system, and the BCMA has been fortunate to be a leader.” 

Dr Schonfeld ex­plained that the evolution that the BCMA and CMA were pursuing together was “to place the patient to the centre of the equation… and make health care patient-centred… where we are able to look after patients to the best of our ability.” Dr Schonfeld went on to say that the CMA has taken a leadership role in directing health care and making it patient-centred and that “we are fortunate to have staff who at the BCMA are able to formulate policy that puts patients and patient care in focus.”

Drs Ken Kolotyluk, Arun Garg, and Jim Lane thanked Dr Schonfeld and extended sincere appreciation for work well done. A resolution was re­corded noting that Dr Schonfeld’s contribution, commitment, and leadership is much appreciated. To a round of standing applause Dr Schonfeld’s report was accepted as published.

Dr Winsby was up next to present the report of the Tariff Committee. Dr Tuyp asked what role the Tariff Committee had played in resolving disparities, and if the committee will do an evaluation so its policies do not increase disparity. Dr Winsby replied that the committee is a facilitative committee subordinate to the Board of Directors and works hard to maintain fairness in all physician compensation. There being no further questions this report was accepted.

Subsequent to Dr Alan Gow’s re­port as chair of the Board of Directors, Dr Jim Busser moved a motion “that any future complaint levied at one or more directors, when made by a current or former director, shall be communicated to the CEO, who shall direct it to a special committee of members at arm’s length, aided by a registered parliamentarian.” Dr Winsby spoke against the motion; Dr Bus­ser spoke in favor of it. A vote was taken, and the motion was defeated.

As committee chair, Dr Brodie presented the report of the Audit and Finance Committee. There were questions about the size of the BCMA’s financial reserves, to which Dr Brodie replied that these funds were constantly reviewed by the committee and with the auditors. 

Regarding expenses, Dr Brodie reviewed the legal costs spent by the Association. The excess of revenue over expenses was mainly due to some administrative fees received for the joint programs, fewer negotiating committee meetings, vacant staff posi­tions, revenues from insurance programs, and additional interest income.

Dr Brodie further explained that as the Association ended the 2010 fiscal year in an excellent financial position, the Board was able to increase the funding for the Student Bursary Fund, allocate additional resources to the membership database redevelopment and IT upgrade, and put the rest into holdings for the Association.

The audited financial statements for 2010 were accepted, and the firm KPMG LLP was appointed as auditors for the BCMA for the 2011 fiscal year.

Dr Brodie next explained that the Audit and Finance Committee believ­ed honoraria rates should be increased to bring them closer to parity with their counterparts in other associations. He showed slides comparing the honoraria payment structures of the CMA, AMA, and OMA, and recommended that the new­ly proposed rates by the Finance and Audit committee be ap­proved.

Referring to this proposal Dr Webb stated he wasn’t sure if even these new rates compensated some physicians’ work, and Dr Gow declared that he re­ceives a stipend as chair of the Board, though it was not on the slide. There being no further comments, the motion was carried.

Lastly, Dr Brodie explained that the Audit and Finance Committee was asking members to approve a dues increase of up to $50 for 2012. This increase was requested because of the leveling trend in membership, a predicted rise in business costs, increased cost for negotiations, and uncertainty of the financial impact of the new agreement. 

At last count the BCMA comprised 7353 full-paying members as compared to 7368 last year. The motion was passed. Also passed was a motion that Drs Brian Brodie, Michael Curry, and David Jones be the members-at-large of the Audit and Finance Committee.

In presenting his Society of General Practitioners of British Columbia report, Dr Ralph Jones mentioned that he was happy to report that their numbers had increased significantly and that other provincial divisions and organizations were asking them how they managed to accomplish this, along with forging such a good and productive relationship with the government. 

After the Business Meeting concluded the floor was turned over to Dr Shelley Ross, chair of the General Assembly, who thanked the many volunteer members on the BCMA committees for their time, dedication, and commitment to the Association. The reports of the COHP, committees, sections and societies, and affiliated organ­izations were accepted as published.

Dr Angus Rae thanked Dr Jetha for placing high importance on the relationship of the BCMA with the UBC Faculty of Medicine. He pointed out that the issue of “transparency” that had been mentioned on several occasions was important. 

There being no further questions or items for discussion, Dr Ross adjourned the General Assembly just after 2 p.m.
—Kashmira Suraliwalla
BCMJ Production Coordinator

Incoming president’s speech highlights

Dr Jetha has been a pediatrician in Vancouver for more than 25 years, working as a community physician with both hospital and academic experience. He was the medical director of the Children’s Hospital Centre at Mount Saint Jo­seph Hospital for 11 years, and served as a member of the medical advisory committees at BC Children’s Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. He’s been actively involved in the BCMA for the past 7 years, serving on a number of committees. 

In his noon-hour speech Dr Nasir Jetha covered his four priority areas for his year as president: healthy children, healthy physicians, a healthy working relationship with government, and a healthy BCMA. Here are highlights from his remarks on children’s health:

“Most babies in British Columbia come into this world healthy and at full term. We all know this is not the case in many, many countries where millions of children suffer daily. Nor is it the case for many of British Columbia’s most vulnerable children; the children living on the margins of society. 

They are children living in poverty, who deal with insecurities about such basic things as food and housing. They are children of immigrant parents. Many of them face language barriers. Some are dealing with the emotional or physical consequen­ces of traumatic events like displacement, resettlement, and sometimes even genocide. 

They are Aboriginal children. Many of them are still dealing with the legacy of past government policies and racial stereotypes. They are children from broken families and families in distress. They may be in government care. Or they may have parents with addiction or mental health issues. And they can be victimized by the stigma attached to these diseases.

“These children often face complex health challenges—both acute and chronic—that may go unrecognized and untreated for years. I was glad to see a newspaper story recently, where Education Minister George Abbott said that identifying and addressing learning difficulties faced by some of BC’s youngest students will be a top priority for him.

“Our children are doing well, but they do have challenges. According to a study completed by Statistics Canada in 2009, Canadian children as a whole are ‘taller, heavier, fatter, and weaker than in 1981.’ Our children are healthier than in the past, but they are not as fit as they should be. As physicians, we can’t stand by and let our children get ‘heavier, fatter, and weaker.’ We can’t let them have a lifestyle that means they will have shorter life spans than their parents.

“I was pleased to see that Premier Christy Clark campaigned on the Families First agenda, which she described as ‘a platform that gives families an opportunity to get ahead in life.’ We may see some leadership from our pro­vincial government on these issues.

“I would also hope that our concern for children can extend beyond BC and Canada to the many, many parts of the world where millions of children suffer daily. I often volunteer with international humanitarian aid agencies. Through this work, I have traveled to Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Tanzania to help children and their mothers with much-needed medical help.

“I hear many heartbreaking stories, and I have witnessed many hardships. At times, I must admit, I’ve felt helpless. I’m sure those who have done relief work will have experienced the same feeling.

“I believe physicians can help when we look beyond our borders and volunteer our time and expertise. Members of our association went to Haiti after the earthquake, and to Sri Lanka after the tsunami. They volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, with the Centre for International Child Health, and the Aga Khan Development Network, amongst others.”

After thanking the retiring Dr Mark Schonfeld, whom he called “the heart and soul of this association” and “truly irreplaceable,” Dr Jetha concluded with these remarks:

“I am cognizant that there are differing views among the membership, but I want to assure you I will be working hard to bridge these differences. I feel strongly about the need for our association, and our board, to represent the interests of all physicians, and I believe that I will do that in the coming year, fairly and equitably.

“I also want to see our Board and our committees better reflect the number of women now in our profession. I realize this will be a challenge, particularly for our female colleagues who may be juggling the responsibilities of a practice along with raising their families. I will be putting together a task force that will look into better ways of recruiting female physicians to participate in BCMA work so we can all benefit from their unique perspective.  

“I will work hard to bring people together, and to keep this organization strong. I can be tough when required. I will not shy away from what needs to be said and done.” 

Kashmira Suraliwalla. Special feature: Jetha “will not shy away from what needs to be said and done”. BCMJ, Vol. 30, No. 6, July, August, 2011, Page(s) 286 - News&Notes.

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