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Canadian Medical Association launches new National Dialogue with Canadians Town halls to focus on causes of poor health

Winnipeg, Feb. 4, 2013 – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) today announced the latest phase of its public town hall consultations on health care transformation, this one taking a closer look at the social factors that cause people to suffer poor health in the first place.

“When you look at what most often drives poor health, it is factors such as poverty, poor nutrition, substandard housing and lack of education,” said Dr. Anna Reid, CMA president. “With so much pressure on access to health care, we tend to focus on the supply side and ways to increase services. Wouldn’t it be more responsible from an economic standpoint, not to mention more compassionate, to tackle the reasons behind the high demand for health care in the first place?”

In 2011, the CMA began a National Dialogue on Health Care Transformation, an online discussion and series of public town hall meetings across the country looking at how to modernize Canada’s health care system. In this phase of the National Dialogue, the CMA is seeking Canadians’ views on how various social factors, or determinants, affect their health and how to mitigate them.

The first town hall meeting of this series begins today in Winnipeg and will focus on the social determinants of health as they relate to Aboriginal health care.

The town halls are taking place in partnership with Maclean’s magazine and will be broadcast on CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel.

“Some people may think that, in looking beyond health care, physicians are treading off their usual path,” said Dr. Reid. “We’re not, really. There is nothing more frustrating than diagnosing a health problem and prescribing treatment for a patient in the knowledge that the cause of the illness will persist.

“A multitude of studies over many years, both in Canada and abroad, have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that the key to a healthy population lies in tackling the social determinants of health. If we really want a healthy population, and how could we not, it’s time for health care professionals, governments and all Canadians to take this research seriously.”

In addition to today’s town hall meeting in Winnipeg, town halls will be held in the coming months in Hamilton, Charlottetown, Calgary and Montreal.

The discussion will be framed by the following four questions:

  1. Many factors influence the health of individuals and communities, such as income, early childhood development, housing and access to healthy food.  How do these factors – known as social determinants – affect your health or the health of your community?
  2. What initiatives or practices have you seen that offset the effects on health of these various determinants?
  3. What should governments, health care providers and others do to help address the social determinants of health?
  4. How can we ensure the health care system is equally accessible to all Canadians, regardless of their income, background or other circumstances?

The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is the national voice of Canadian physicians. Founded in 1867, the CMA is a voluntary professional organization representing more than 77,000 of Canada’s physicians and comprising 12 provincial and territorial medical associations and 51 national medical organizations. CMA’s mission is to serve and unite the physicians of Canada and be the national advocate, in partnership with the people of Canada, for the highest standards of health and health care.

For further information:

Lucie Boileau, Manager,
Senior Advisor, Communications and Public Outreach
[email protected]
Tel.: 800-663-7336 / 613-731-8610 ext. 1266
Cell.: 613-447-0866