This article originally appeared in the Winter 2022 issue of the Ontario Medical Review magazine.
The 2023 OMA elections are around the corner with polls opening Jan. 9. Now is the time to get to know more about the OMA Board of Director physician and non-physician candidates, as well as your incoming president-elect, Dr. Dominik Nowak. Here are the candidate statements of interest to find out what each person will bring to the role at the OMA, so you can make an informed decision when it’s time to vote.
For more information about this year’s elections process and nominees, visit the OMA elections page.
Transformation is my motivation for involvement with the OMA. The grassroots movement of 2016 demanded change and this was my impetus for becoming section chair and council delegate. From there, I served on the Civility, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Council Steering and Governance Committee, and the Governance Transformation Committee. On the Governance Transformation Committee, major changes to key governance practices were made and board size reduced. I joined the board to ensure changes were implemented, to ensure EDI was truly woven into our governance practices, and to be part of a more transparent OMA. I am currently the chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee where this critical work is being done. There are so many moving parts within the ongoing transformation that continuity as well as historical perspective of ‘where we were’ and ‘why certain changes were made’ are important to leverage. When our governance structure is transparent, every OMA member and constituency leader will easily understand the work that is being done, who to escalate issues with and how to make things happen. As a strong leader on the board, I hope my achievements will give me the opportunity to continue this work for a second term.
It is with great excitement that I express my interest in serving on the board of directors for the Ontario Medical Association.
I have always believed that system-based changes are the key to improving patient-centred care, and it is for this reason I am interested in serving in this capacity. I have served in several leadership positions over the year, and in this capacity, I have learned the importance of a multi-disciplinary team and valuing the opinion of each and every team member. It is through this collective approach that I envision improvement in our medical system.
My passion in the field of geriatrics has allowed me to truly grasp the need of this ever-growing population. I hope to bring my knowledge and experience in the care of older adults to this position, so that we can all advocate together for the most frail and vulnerable.
I am interested in serving on the OMA board because I want to support our membership and organization as we become the leading physician association in North America.
Core to this is success in achieving these four member needs: Negotiation of fees, physician advocacy, defining the scope of virtual care and organizational governance.
First and foremost is the requirement to negotiate fees with the Ministry of Health and secure fair funding for the work performed by physicians every day in a demanding and evolving health-care environment. Complementing negotiations is physician advocacy. Our association has engaged government and stakeholders in modernizing both our health-care system and the leadership role of physicians. Third, the rise of virtual care has fundamentally changed how we practice medicine. Our association must lead in defining the role and value of the work performed by physicians and our ability to use these technologies to provide care to people and regions that have very limited access to physician services. Last, it’s imperative that we implement changes to our governance to engage our membership and increase the relevance and effectiveness of the OMA in our daily practice of medicine.
I align with the mission, vision and values of the OMA. It would be an honour to continue to serve the organization, completing my two-year term as chair of the board. I bring governance expertise to the role of board chair. My experience includes working with regional, provincial, national and international health-care system delivery stakeholders. These roles have provided me with an understanding of the membership’s need for excellent and effective government relationships regarding policy, negotiations and clinical operations.
I have been the board chair for a provincial medical organization (OCFP), and I am the current chair of ARGI.inc board, a provincial not-for-profit chronic disease program. These roles have given me experience as a board chair with organizations that have undergone significant transformation and growth. I am excited to continue intentional leadership on the culture of the OMA to strengthen our role in the health-care system leadership and stewardship while expanding value to each member inclusive, but not limited to, the priority role of negotiations. I will use my knowledge of the organization and subsidiaries, and my understanding of how they integrate with stakeholders and the government, to deliver on these.
I am passionate about the implementation and maintenance of evidence-based health care. I hope to support and direct the OMA in its goal of improving health care for all inhabitants of the province of Ontario. This (health-care system) should allow people to have the resources necessary for safe, equitable health care. I envisage using my expertise in quality improvement and patient safety to advance all the key elements of safe effective health care including the domains of adequate human and physical resources, funding, mental health, community focus and maternal-child health care.
I have been involved with OMA for many years now, first as a delegate to council and now as treasurer of SGFP executive and District 4 representative. I am fairly familiar with the governance and journey of transformation the OMA board and organization was going through for the last few years including, but not limited to, General Assembly and its work. Furthermore, I possess a wealth of knowledge about current issues facing physicians within the health-care system and my goal is to shed light on physician issues and provide some innovative ideas and strategies for improvements of our collective voices in dealings with the government. What is my driver is my passion for my fellow physicians and the crucial role we play in health care of today and the future. It is my desire, by serving as a board director, to make a lasting positive impact on the lives of my colleagues. I believe in order to be great at doing the work of director, one needs to possess many leadership qualities; being a collaborator, great communicator and forward thinker and those are the skills I will bring to this role.
I seek re-election to the OMA board because I want to fight for what the physicians of Ontario deserve. The physicians of Ontario deserve improved income, benefits, decreased administrative burden and so much more. With unprecedented demands on physicians, we face an epidemic of physician burnout, which must be addressed urgently. If elected, I will advocate for all physicians, in all sections. In prior OMA roles (District 8 delegate, Diagnostic Assembly chair, board director), I learned that physicians are strongest when we fight for each other. Building bridges among physicians and listening to each other make us stronger. We are stronger when unified. Our voice is louder when we speak as one. Board directors must advocate for all Ontario physicians. As a board director, I learned about issues affecting different physicians across the province. Some include different challenges for community and hospital-based physicians; challenges in rural and northern locations; administrative burden; challenges of EMRs and many more.
I seek re-election to the OMA board because I want to fight for physicians. If elected, I will fight on behalf of all physicians in Ontario. I would be grateful if you considered voting for me, Cynthia Walsh, for OMA board director.
The last few years have been difficult for all physicians, and there are numerous, complex challenges and stresses that still await us. Unfortunately, we failed to meet the needs of all physicians in our last master agreement. We have work to do. Virtual care is here to stay: how will this be successfully integrated without compromising the physician-patient relationship and be remunerated fairly? The rapid expansion of scope of work through non-physicians is a growing challenge that affects all of us. Yet my vision has not wavered – we must have a strong OMA that advocates for and relentlessly builds a foundation with Ontario doctors’ professional well-being as its primary focus. As a current board director, the lack of engagement with members clearly shows that there is much work to be done. The status quo is not acceptable. We can and must be innovative in our next negotiations with government. We have less than a year to prepare.
With a unique wealth of experience at bilateral MOH-OMA tables, along with two decades of strong advocacy for physicians, both inside and outside the OMA, I have the skills to make the OMA the strongest organization possible for all physicians.
Outside of my daily work in the energy sector, I have had a life-long passion for the advancement of policy, funding and support in health care. This is demonstrated throughout my volunteer work with organizations such as the United Way of Halton-Hamilton, the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation Board, chair of the Governance Committee at Hamilton Health Sciences, and in my participation as a public member of the College Performance Metrics Working Group of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. I also strongly believe in the advocacy role that professional associations can play to advance the sector, while supporting the profession. I have been chair of the board for two (one Ontario and one national) professional associations.
I also have two daughters who are physicians in Ontario. Their career choice of becoming doctors greatly reflects the focus within our family on the important role that physicians play. As you might imagine, our family conversations are dominated by the opportunities and challenges facing the medical profession in Ontario.
I will make the personal commitment to continue the mission of OMA, dedicate myself to the role of board member and work co-operatively with fellow members.
I bring more than 30 years of corporate and not-for-profit and board experience and an unwavering commitment to good governance. I have served as a board director, committee chair, board chair and vice-chair. I have created governance structures and led teams in digital health, drug pricing, pharmacy services and health policy. My previous roles as a public affairs executive and industry association CEO, mean I have a deep understanding of the delicate balance of being relevant to members, governments and other stakeholders.
Today, health care across the province is in a critical time of transition. I am fully committed to positively contributing to this change. I believe the OMA board has a responsibility to influence and lead this change to ensure OMA members can provide optimal health care that will support and enable positive health outcomes and economic fairness for the profession and for Ontarians.
With my demonstrated passion and independent perspective, I believe I can contribute a lot to the OMA as board director. As the OMA Human Resources and Compensation Committee chair, I have led the process of modernizing our mandate and work.
Our health system is under enormous pressure. This pressure hits both the people receiving care, but also the humans doing the care. The difference between the care we know we can give, and what our health system allows, is only widening. Never has there been a more important time for a united physician voice to advocate for, and contribute, to solutions.
As an experienced health leader, I am stepping up to contribute to bringing voices together.
There are several areas that are especially dear to me:
HUMANS: Instead of talking about heroes, let’s talk about humans. Preventing the collapse of our health system means valuing the humans doing the care. This doesn’t just include billing, but also practice, professional and personal supports for doctors to be their best.
TEAMWORK: Building support for teamwork across family doctors, specialists and other health professionals. One person can’t be everything to everyone – health care takes a team.
TOGETHERNESS: Health advocates are stronger together, and even more impactful when health-system improvement is supported by public voice.
Together, we have a window of opportunity to shape a better future and build back better.