Equity and diversity in medicine are the subject of an important, ongoing discussion for medical professionals and patients. Greater equity and diversity in the medical workforce will improve system adaptation and patient care, but many barriers need to be addressed for the profession to move forward.

To better understand and address these barriers, the CMA launched a conversation with CMA members and stakeholders on equity and diversity in medicine in January 2019.

Members and stakeholders were encouraged to ponder questions such as:

  • In your opinion, what are the most prominent issues or challenges related to equity and diversity facing the medical profession?
  • What actions or solutions, big or small, might lead us toward a more equitable and diverse future for the medical profession?
  • How can an increasingly diverse profession positively affect patients?
  • What role should the CMA play in improving equity and diversity to support you as a member?

Since receiving and reviewing feedback, the CMA has developed a draft policy on equity and diversity in medicine to promote increased equity and diversity in medicine and to foster a more collaborative and respectful professional culture. By developing this policy, the CMA aims to identify a set of guiding principles and commitments to achieve these goals. It provides support for the view that improving circumstances and opportunities for physicians and learners is essential in creating a more equitable and sustainable culture and practice of medicine.

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Defining equity and diversity

Equity refers to the treatment of people that recognizes and accommodates their differences. Equity relates to the opportunities of any given person, with their own identity, culture and characteristics, to create and sustain a career or to receive medical care without discrimination, harassment or cultural- or characteristic-related negative bias.

Diversity includes those (observable and non-observable) characteristics that are constructed — and sometimes chosen — by individuals, groups and societies to identify themselves (e.g., age, culture, language, gender, sexuality, health, cognitive abilities, socioeconomic status) in different contexts and that may describe them in relation to others in those contexts. It describes them in relation to other people (e.g., age, socioeconomic status, geographic location, health).

Feedback options

The consultation period for reviewing the draft policy closed on Nov. 18, 2019. Thank you to all stakeholders who shared their thoughts. 

  • Equality of opportunity is different than equity of outcome. Merit, hard work and aptitude are traits which should be rewarded. Discriminating against individuals on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation etc is wrong and certainly, in the environment in which I work, these types of discriminatory behaviours are not seen, despite the CMA's insistence that they are present. Once equity of outcome becomes a goal, traits such as sex, race, sexual orientation etc. become highlighted and discriminatory practices are performed against people with the aptitude and ability just to fill quotas. Making a decision to hire or promote someone because that individual is of a certain race or ethnic background discriminates against all other races and backgrounds. The CMA should take guidance from the Law Society of Ontario who rejected these types of policies as discriminatory and wrong. I agree with the other writers too that the CMA should focus on issues such as what are they going to do with the $2B that they received from the sale of MD Management. They should also focus on issues such as the proposed 

  • I agree. Equality of opportunity = yes. Equality of outcome = no. 

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