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. 

  • I was a diehard CMA member for my entire 20 year career and still see that the CMA has potential to be a valuable organization.  But this "Equity and Diversity" crap is what is driving me out.  I won't pay for membership again next year. 

    (Warning - sarcasm ahead)  Perhaps we need a special program for males because 58% of med students are female for the last few years (females have been in the majority for ~25 years).  Perhaps we need to work against having so many Asians because they are over-represented (so of course they must have some unfair advantage!).  And don't even get me going about how over-represented Jewish people are!  Obviously there must be some type of pro-Jewish agenda!  I'm not for letting people "self-declare" their race (right now that's the way it works in NS, and Dalhousie already has a lower standard for entry for anyone who says they are from a "disadvantaged group").  So maybe we should develop a skin tone test of some sort to help us figure out how we should treat people?

    Or how about we just drop all this "I'm hard done by" crap, and all the "systemic discrimination" garbage, realize that medicine in Canada is one of the most open and least racist areas EVER in the history of the world.  Let's focus on excellence, togetherness, colour-blindness, and maintaining high standards and respect for the profession, rather than dissolving into identity politics and competing to decide who is hardest-done-by.

    I HIGHLY recommend Douglas Murray's new book "The Madness of Crowds" if you need a primer on why this continued push to "Equity and Diversity" is toxic.  

    Equality of opportunity is NOT the same as equality of outcome.  In fact, trying to engineer equality of outcome ruins equality of opportunity.

  • If we are treating people equally, as you are so sure, why are women physicians in Canada paid less than men physicians, even when controlling for specialty choice, time at work, and other relevant factors, in both non-FFS and FFS compensation models: and

  • Further, if we are treating men and women physicians equally, why do women physicians experience sexual harassment at rates that are double (or higher) that of men physicians: and

    Overall, your opinion is that we are treating men and women equally. Evidence demonstrates that this is not true. The CMA policy looks to address this. Why are you actually opposed to this? Are you worried that you, as a man, will lose something if women are paid the same and are protected from harassment at work?

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